Pompeo speaks following Saudi Arabia trip

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks to the media following his trip to Saudi Arabia.

Posted: Oct 19, 2018 6:33 AM
Updated: Oct 19, 2018 6:54 AM

With every claim from Turkey detailing more lurid details in the alleged murder of Jamal Khashoggi, Saudi Arabia's media bends further forward -- risking a face plant in its efforts to kowtow to a different reality.

Such has been the concentration of power in the hands of one man in this kingdom, Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, that until further notice, no one is going to divert from the official narrative.

In fact, there's a near comical competition among columnists to establish who can most rubbish the version emerging in the international media covering the story from Turkey and elsewhere.

And this goes some way to explaining why critics of bin Salman, who is effectively the nation's chief executive, refuse to accept that he could not have known of the alleged plot that led to Khasoggi's disappearance.

In a front-page news story in the Saudi Gazette, a headline insists: "I enjoy absolute freedom, says former dissident."

Dr. Kassab al-Otaibi, who is described in the piece as a "former Saudi opposition figure" who spent a year abroad in 1994 in the company of other Saudi refuseniks, is quoted as saying: "The first second and third lessons that I have acquired during my life abroad was about the precious value and sanctity of the Kingdom." [sic].

The state-owned newspaper further quotes Otaibi as condemning the Qatari-owned al Jazeera channel's coverage of the case, which has relied heavily on Turkish sources and has published some of the most gruesome allegations about how Khashoggi may have allegedly died.

"...the channel and its staffers are doing this at the expense of professionalism, objectivity, ethics and humanity," he's quoted as saying to the paper.

Meanwhile in the Arriyadh Arabic language paper, Fahad al Harthy insists that the entire saga is a mendacious plot against the very future of Saudi Arabia.

In an article headlined: "Yes!! The target was not just Jamal Khashoggi ... the target is the new Saudi" he says that ultimately, the Khashoggi case is a plot to derail bin Salman's plans to modernize the country.

"The kingdom's enemies have found in Khashoggi's disappearance a useful tool for attacking Saudi," he wrote.

Al Watan news' Ahmad al Rudhiman also blamed Qatar for creating this scandal in a bid to "divide Saudi and end the kingdom".

Qatar is a convenient bogeyman. The tiny natural-gas rich country has backed the Muslim Brotherhood -- an organization that is banned as a terror group in many Arab nations but not in Europe or the United States -- and set its face against Saudi regional dominance.

Last year Saudi Arabia imposed a blockade on the nation, demanding it close al Jazeera, among other things, and was joined in the campaign by Gulf ally the United Arab Emirates and others.

The blockade was ordered by bin Salman.

In the last couple of years, Saudi Arabia was accused of detaining the Prime Minister of Lebanon, a claim the kingdom denied. The Saudis have also escalated a war in Yemen and incarcerated more than 200 senior businessmen and princes in Saudi Arabia until they settled with the kingdom for tens of billions for alleged corruption.

Bin Salman has also managed to get into a loud diplomatic row with Canada over the detention of human rights activists in Saudi Arabia.

But the 33-year-old bin Salman, known as MBS, has also promised economic and political liberalization -- and has ended the ban on women driving -- by 2030.

He has successfully secured America's support in the Saudi view -- one shared by most of the rest of the Gulf and Israel -- that the deal that suspended Iran's nuclear program in return for a lifting of sanctions was a very bad one. So bad, according to Donald Trump, that the United States pulled out of it.

Bin Salman's weakness may be a perception among his critics that he's been irascible and unpredictable in his short tenure as the CEO of the kingdom. And that if you take absolute power, you risk taking absolute responsibility for what happens under you.

His concentration of power into his own hands has, as revealed in the coverage of the Khashoggi case here, meant there appears to be a perception among journalists that only fawning propaganda is acceptable.

They may be wrong and just guessing at what they believe they should be saying.

Or they may sincerely believe that Qatar has managed to put on a globally effective grand guignol complete with a Dr. Mengele character armed, the story goes, with a bone saw, and that this piece of theater had hoodwinked the world's media.

Either way, there has been no discussion of the political fallout in Saudi Arabia that must surely attend Khashoggi's disappearance.

Here in Saudi Arabia there has been no reporting of the "Henry II" defense, which, sources in the kingdom tell CNN, is being developed by the Saudi authorities behind closed doors.

Jamal Khashoggi, like English King Henry's chancellor Thomas Becket, was a palace insider who turned against his mentor. In the case of Becket, he defied the King after he was appointed archbishop of Canterbury in the 12th century.

Legend has it that in a fit of pique Henry uttered "Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?" and, keen to impress the monarch, four knights rushed off and skewered Becket to the altar of his own cathedral.

Henry was distraught. He wrapped himself in sackcloth and ashes and fasted in penance for three days and forever insisted he had not ordered the killing.

In Saudi Arabia there is no evidence of any kind that the crown prince uttered an off-the-cuff comment that set a plot against the Washington Post columnist in motion. Nor any that he went further and ordered the alleged murder. He has denied involvement.

Sources tell CNN that Saudi authorities are likely to conclude that Khashoggi allegedly died in an operation the crown prince neither authorized nor knew of.

Bin Salman is likely to emerge entirely blameless, the sources insist.

King Henry II ruled for 35 years and laid the foundation for English common law, which still underpins jurisprudence in the English-speaking world. History has largely forgotten his reforms.

He's chiefly remembered as the near absolute ruler who accidentally killed a friend with a comment.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 149940

Reported Deaths: 3779
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto9953104
Hinds9892198
Harrison7045110
Jackson6270119
Rankin5462102
Lee501095
Madison4734106
Forrest380586
Jones354888
Lauderdale3425145
Lafayette321549
Washington3161107
Lamar289250
Oktibbeha244362
Bolivar240984
Lowndes234164
Panola219850
Neshoba2196118
Marshall213850
Leflore204790
Pontotoc199228
Monroe197377
Sunflower191655
Lincoln188765
Warren175357
Tate168051
Union166025
Copiah163040
Pike161658
Yazoo154239
Scott152129
Itawamba151534
Pearl River150867
Coahoma150143
Alcorn149628
Simpson146753
Prentiss144230
Adams141150
Grenada140645
Leake133543
Holmes129961
George124524
Tippah124530
Covington122238
Winston121624
Hancock120239
Wayne117223
Marion115846
Attala112234
Tishomingo108942
Chickasaw107132
Newton104229
Tallahatchie96827
Clay90327
Clarke89353
Jasper82022
Walthall76328
Stone76114
Calhoun73913
Montgomery73625
Carroll72115
Lawrence70814
Noxubee70617
Yalobusha70627
Smith70516
Perry66126
Tunica60619
Greene60022
Claiborne58316
Jefferson Davis56517
Amite53114
Humphreys53119
Benton49117
Quitman4897
Webster43414
Kemper42518
Wilkinson39422
Jefferson34811
Franklin3365
Choctaw3237
Sharkey30917
Issaquena1144
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 242874

Reported Deaths: 3572
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson31944500
Mobile19687361
Madison13065148
Tuscaloosa12983154
Montgomery12286236
Shelby1020377
Baldwin860398
Lee773566
Morgan653850
Calhoun6240119
Marshall621355
Etowah621066
Houston523038
DeKalb481336
Cullman435442
Limestone420645
St. Clair415855
Elmore404564
Lauderdale400454
Walker3634111
Talladega349054
Jackson313423
Colbert309342
Blount288840
Autauga271642
Franklin251033
Coffee242615
Dale231854
Dallas225932
Chilton221938
Russell22143
Covington218534
Escambia197931
Chambers176550
Tallapoosa175791
Pike158314
Clarke158019
Marion137936
Winston132323
Lawrence127336
Pickens122318
Geneva12138
Marengo121024
Bibb117317
Barbour117110
Butler115341
Randolph102021
Cherokee101524
Hale96131
Clay91124
Washington90919
Fayette89816
Henry8526
Lowndes79529
Monroe78711
Cleburne77114
Macon73122
Crenshaw71130
Bullock69419
Conecuh68414
Perry6846
Lamar6718
Wilcox63218
Sumter57722
Greene42418
Choctaw42113
Coosa3414
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
46° wxIcon
Hi: 57° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 46°
Columbus
Clear
45° wxIcon
Hi: 56° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 45°
Oxford
Clear
39° wxIcon
Hi: 54° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 39°
Starkville
Clear
43° wxIcon
Hi: 54° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 43°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather