Saudi Cover Story on Jamal Khashoggi's Murder is Absurd
After multiple assurances that they had nothing to do with Jamal Khashoggi's death, last night Saudi officials admitted that he was killed in their consulate in Turkey. They claim that it was the result of a fistfight that the journalist initiated with Saudi security personnel which ended when Khashoggi was put in a chokehold, strangling him to death. The Kingdom said that it has arrested 18 individuals, including Maj. Gen. Ahmed al-Assiri, the deputy director of Saudi intelligence, but indicated that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had no involvement with the incident. The Saudi statement didn't say where Khashoggi's body might be found.
The only people who will believe this account are those that want the story to go away and President Trump seems to be one of them.
New York Times: "President Trump on Friday night said that Saudi Arabia’s statements were credible and that, along with its announcement of arrests, amounted to “good first steps.”
"Mr. Trump, who has built strong ties with the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, said that he would consider “some form of sanction” in response, but that he “would prefer we don’t use as retribution” the cancellation of $110 billion worth of arms sales to the Saudis."
However, many others, including American intelligence officials, seem a bit more skeptical.
New York Times: "Mr. Trump’s response sets up a clash with Congress, where Republicans and Democrats both tarred the Saudi explanation as lacking credibility. A senior lawmaker briefed on American intelligence assessments of the circumstances surrounding Mr. Khashoggi’s death, and the likely culprits, said it was not consistent with the Saudi account."
Reuters: "Democratic U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal told CNN the Saudi explanation “absolutely defies credibility” and he called for an international investigation of Khashoggi’s death."
“To say that I am skeptical of the new Saudi narrative about Mr. Khashoggi is an understatement,” Republican U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham, said on Twitter. Graham, who has been sharply critical of Saudi Arabia after Khashoggi’s disappearance, is a close ally of President Donald Trump."
“First we were told Mr. Khashoggi supposedly left the consulate and there was blanket denial of any Saudi involvement. Now, a fight breaks out and he’s killed in the consulate, all without knowledge of Crown Prince,” Graham said."
“It’s hard to find this latest ‘explanation’ as credible,” he added."
This story isn't going away until there is a credible explanation of what happened and who was behind Khashoggi's assassination. The first step must be to find his body. The Saudis know where it is and they must be pressured to produce it.