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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: 144544

Reported Deaths: 3729
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto956999
Hinds9541193
Harrison6825105
Jackson6068116
Rankin523796
Lee480294
Madison4602102
Forrest367185
Jones344687
Lauderdale3343142
Lafayette313347
Washington3088106
Lamar281849
Bolivar237883
Oktibbeha237760
Lowndes228362
Neshoba2171113
Panola211047
Marshall207247
Leflore200789
Pontotoc193227
Monroe189577
Sunflower189554
Lincoln183964
Warren172157
Tate163349
Union160125
Pike160058
Copiah158840
Yazoo150638
Scott149929
Coahoma147342
Itawamba145533
Alcorn143724
Simpson143553
Pearl River142967
Prentiss139526
Grenada136344
Adams135948
Leake131643
Holmes124461
George121623
Tippah120930
Covington117234
Winston115824
Wayne115722
Hancock114137
Marion110746
Attala106233
Tishomingo106042
Newton102829
Chickasaw102332
Tallahatchie94727
Clarke88253
Clay86726
Jasper81121
Walthall74328
Stone72314
Montgomery71925
Calhoun71213
Carroll70514
Lawrence69914
Noxubee69017
Smith68616
Yalobusha67926
Perry65225
Tunica59519
Greene58422
Claiborne57416
Jefferson Davis54117
Humphreys52518
Amite50814
Benton48217
Quitman4786
Webster41614
Kemper40815
Wilkinson38422
Jefferson34011
Franklin3185
Sharkey30617
Choctaw3057
Issaquena1114
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 234080

Reported Deaths: 3459
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson30620491
Mobile19306358
Tuscaloosa12501148
Madison12410146
Montgomery12040232
Shelby980576
Baldwin826984
Lee753964
Morgan618247
Calhoun5997113
Etowah590564
Marshall581953
Houston507038
DeKalb463535
Cullman412636
Limestone404544
St. Clair398455
Elmore393961
Lauderdale382953
Walker349096
Talladega335942
Colbert296341
Jackson291924
Blount276336
Autauga263439
Franklin244833
Coffee233415
Dale226654
Dallas220231
Russell21803
Chilton216937
Covington212533
Escambia194431
Tallapoosa169290
Chambers168048
Pike155514
Clarke155419
Marion134535
Winston123723
Lawrence122436
Geneva11748
Marengo116924
Barbour116110
Pickens115318
Bibb114217
Butler113741
Randolph99821
Cherokee98924
Hale91631
Washington90018
Clay89423
Fayette84416
Henry8426
Lowndes78729
Monroe76811
Cleburne74414
Crenshaw70330
Macon70020
Bullock69019
Conecuh66814
Perry6686
Lamar6267
Wilcox62418
Sumter55322
Choctaw41713
Greene40217
Coosa3074
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