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Saudis preparing to admit Khashoggi was killed

The Saudis are preparing a report that will conclude Jamal Khashoggi's death was the result of an interrogation that went wrong, one that was intended to lead to his abduction from Turkey, according to two sources.

Posted: Oct 16, 2018 9:39 AM
Updated: Oct 16, 2018 9:39 AM

The impact of Jamal Khashoggi's disappearance at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul two weeks ago could last for generations.

We might be witnessing not only the apparent silencing of a critic, but a spasm in Saudi Arabia's long-running struggle for power between the kingdom's sprawling royal lines.

Since Ibn Saud, the founder of Saudi Arabia, first swept his family to power in the 1920s, taking the holy cities Mecca and Medina and the cosmopolitan port of Jeddah, power has passed from one son to the next -- in order of age and ability.

Machinations inside the palace grew over recent decades. As Ibn Saud's sons grew older, it became clear that at some point succession would have to drop a generation -- effectively anointing just one line of the tangled royal lineage to lasting power.

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, saw his family's opportunity when his father, Salman, became King.

So fraught had the process of appointing the next in line that the last King formed a special council to do so. Its pick was Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, then interior minister, whose father had held the position before him.

Bin Nayef would have been the first of his generation to take on the mantle of King. His family could have expected to form the new royal line. Patronage and wealth would have flowed from their largesse.

But in an unprecedented sequence of events last summer, bin Nayef unexpectedly relinquished his path to the throne. He was later seen on TV with MBS, who kissed his hand.

The message wasn't missed: MBS, it seemed, had usurped bin Nayef, who has barely been seen since.

All sorts of rumors circulated -- one of which claimed that since surviving an al Qaeda assassination attempt a decade ago, bin Nayef had been hooked on painkillers.

For seasoned observers it smacked of disinformation, which was designed to send a message to his family and friends they should keep quiet or face similar character assassination.

None of it stood up to scrutiny.

MBS used a similar tactic of disinformation to trash people's reputations when he locked up some of Saudi's wealthiest businessmen -- including members of his own family -- on corruption charges without mentioning their extensive business experience.

Bin Nayef had a close working relationship with US counterterrorism officials and was respected as a royal who could be relied upon. In other words, he would have been a safe pair of hands.

The complex jockeying for the next generation of Saudi leadership has its roots in Ibn Saud's prodigious procreation.

His favourite wife, Hussa Sudairi had seven sons, who became known as the Sudari Seven. There are many other branches of Ibn Saud's family, but they were always seen as the most likely line to take the throne to the next generation.

King Salman is the last in the line of the Sudari Seven. His predecessor, King Abdullah, was from another branch with which Khashoggi had ties through the former head of Saudi intelligence, Prince Turki al Faisal -- himself the son of another King: Faisal.

In short, connections and the flows of power are complicated and have often led to nervousness, if not paranoia, among rivals.

To try to follow royal lines and shifting allegiances has always been an art. Kings have ruled by a consultative council -- and the jostling to pick up crumbs of power in these has been ceaseless.

King Salman's reign has been different.

Since his brother Abdullah died in 2015 and Salman took over, MBS began consolidating power. Being anointed Crown Prince last year was only one small part.

As mentioned above, shortly after becoming Crown Prince, he locked up many of his cousins, uncles and other power brokers in the luxury Ritz-Carlton Hotel on charges of corruption.

Only a few ended up in court, but many were forced to hand over lucrative business contracts and forfeit huge chunks of their wealth.

This will have left many quietly seething, but unable to speak for fear of retribution.

Senior royals and government ministers report late-night sessions with a restless Crown Prince. Here, he presents them with spreadsheets and showers them with facts and figures. He demands attention and expects results.

Officials who get in his way -- like one last year who was tardy in making gym facilities he wanted available for schoolgirls -- are removed.

Numerous Saudi officials I have spoken to talk of being nervous when summoned.

In short, MBS has become a court of one.

Nothing happens without his say. Even business deals languish until he has the bandwidth to move on them.

His top-down management style is not altogether out of step with previous monarchs.

But that's the point: he isn't King. Even his father has appeared marginalized by his ambitious Vision 2030 to modernize the Kingdom.

He won plaudits for being a reformer. I for one saw the relief of many young Saudis who were desperate for change and fearful he might be stopped.

But his road forward is in danger of running out of tarmac. Many potential international investors are backing out of the so-called Davos in the Desert forum next week.

Reading what kind of rap he is getting behind palace doors at the moment is much harder.

His father, King Salman, appears to be taking the lead. After a phone call on Sunday with the Turkish President, Turkish investigators were allowed in to the consulate.

What this bodes for MBS is unclear. But the message for the many royals he barged out of the way is that the international community is very well predisposed to seeing a less disruptive figure lead the region's most important country.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 314710

Reported Deaths: 7254
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto21646260
Hinds20369416
Harrison17949309
Rankin13643278
Jackson13450246
Madison10113217
Lee9986174
Jones8384163
Forrest7689152
Lauderdale7198240
Lowndes6403148
Lamar623686
Lafayette6203119
Washington5341134
Bolivar4802132
Oktibbeha462998
Panola4596107
Pearl River4519146
Marshall4450103
Warren4393121
Pontotoc420872
Monroe4115133
Union411176
Neshoba4031176
Lincoln3969110
Hancock379586
Leflore3498125
Sunflower336290
Tate334784
Pike3327105
Scott316274
Alcorn313368
Yazoo311770
Itawamba300577
Copiah297465
Coahoma295579
Simpson295388
Tippah288768
Adams286982
Prentiss280060
Marion269380
Leake268473
Wayne262841
Grenada261587
Covington259881
George248148
Newton246862
Winston227581
Tishomingo227067
Jasper221148
Attala214473
Chickasaw208057
Holmes189174
Clay185554
Stone182833
Tallahatchie178941
Clarke178080
Calhoun170932
Yalobusha164638
Smith162534
Walthall134245
Greene130633
Lawrence128724
Montgomery127142
Noxubee126734
Perry126338
Amite123142
Carroll121829
Webster114532
Jefferson Davis107133
Tunica105726
Claiborne102430
Benton100025
Humphreys96733
Kemper95828
Franklin83923
Quitman81116
Choctaw76418
Wilkinson67531
Jefferson65728
Sharkey50217
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 540083

Reported Deaths: 11038
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson798481529
Mobile41283809
Madison35157506
Tuscaloosa25925455
Shelby25302249
Montgomery24723593
Baldwin21411310
Lee15993172
Calhoun14574319
Morgan14425280
Etowah13925353
Marshall12280225
Houston10648282
Elmore10158206
Limestone10070151
St. Clair9948245
Cullman9768194
Lauderdale9460243
DeKalb8865188
Talladega8341176
Walker7261278
Autauga7005108
Jackson6840112
Blount6773139
Colbert6322135
Coffee5581118
Dale4877113
Russell445738
Chilton4373113
Franklin426382
Covington4138118
Tallapoosa4044153
Escambia394877
Chambers3596123
Dallas3569153
Clarke351561
Marion3140101
Pike312077
Lawrence303098
Winston275873
Bibb264764
Geneva254178
Marengo249865
Pickens234862
Barbour232056
Hale224078
Butler219169
Fayette212862
Henry189943
Cherokee184845
Randolph182542
Monroe178141
Washington167839
Macon161350
Clay157257
Crenshaw153557
Cleburne149641
Lamar143336
Lowndes140653
Wilcox127430
Bullock123242
Conecuh110829
Coosa109228
Perry107826
Sumter105032
Greene92634
Choctaw61024
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