WaPo: CIA finds Saudi crown prince ordered Jamal Khashoggi's death

The CIA determined that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman personally ordered the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, despite the Saudi government's denials that the de facto ruler was not involved, the Washington Post reports.

Posted: Nov 18, 2018 1:28 PM
Updated: Nov 18, 2018 1:28 PM

Now that CIA officials have concluded that the murder of Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi was ordered by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman -- an allegation the regime denies -- the crisis in US-Saudi relations has ratcheted up another level.

According to sources cited by CNN and other news organizations, there is sufficient evidence to attribute the orders for the death to bin Salman, also known as MBS.

MBS has also variously presided over a disastrous war in Yemen; the blockade of Saudi Arabia's neighbor, Qatar; the de facto temporary kidnapping of the Lebanese prime minister; and the incarceration in a luxury hotel in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, of some two hundred businessmen and princes, who had to hand over tens of billions to secure their freedom in what the government described as settlements in an anti-corruption drive.

Astonishingly, given the importance of Saudi Arabia there hasn't ever been a Trump-appointed ambassador in the country. The US-Saudi relationship has therefore been largely an informal one managed by President Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, 37, and MBS, 33.

On Tuesday, the Trump administration nominated retired four-star general John Abizaid to be ambassador to Saudi Arabia. The post requires confirmation by the US Senate.

What has been sorely lacking is someone of the stature of Abizaid in the Saudi capital to be in regular contact with MBS and to try and provide him some adult supervision.

It's hard to think of someone more qualified than Abizaid for the role. Abizaid, aged 67, speaks fluent Arabic and once ran Central Command (CENTCOM), which is responsible for US military actions in the Middle East. This gives him great expertise and experience in the region as well as the gravitas to speak for President Trump.

Having largely acquiesced in MBS's foolhardy ventures, the Trump administration is beginning to push back a bit. For instance, earlier this month the US ended the American refueling of Saudi warplanes that are bombing Yemen back into the Middle Ages. The administration has also sanctioned 17 Saudis allegedly involved in Khashoggi's murder.

Every day seems to bring some new story of chaos at the White House, not least the defenestration on Wednesday of Deputy National Security Advisor Mira Ricardel because she had angered Melania Trump. That said, the Trump foreign policy team is becoming more professionalized than it was under the hapless Rex Tillerson, who is widely regarded as one of the least successful secretaries of state in American history.

Tillerson had a dismal record of getting qualified diplomats confirmed. By contrast, his successor, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, has tapped some real stars for significant foreign policy roles.

For Afghanistan, an experienced representative

In addition to Abizaid, another shrewd appointment by the Trump administration was tapping veteran diplomat Zalmay Khalilzad two months ago to be Special Representative to Afghanistan.

Khalilzad is an Afghan American who served as US ambassador to Afghanistan from 2003 to 2005. Khalilzad and the then-Afghan president Hamid Karzai worked closely together at a time when the country was relatively stable. President George W. Bush later appointed him to be ambassador to Iraq and to the United Nations.

He is already leading American discussions with the Taliban to try to produce some kind of peace settlement. That process will surely take time, but it is necessary to bring an end to the conflict in Afghanistan.

Khalilzad may also have the knowledge and experience to bring together the fractious Afghan political establishment to try to ensure a somewhat free and fair presidential election next year.

The previous two presidential elections were both fiascos, marred by widespread fraud. Afghanistan simply cannot afford to have another deeply flawed presidential election, and Khalilzad should use Trump's well-known unpredictability and distaste for the Afghanistan War as leverage to tell Afghan leaders that a presidential election characterized by rampant fraud could result in Trump pulling the plug on American support.

Other capable appointees

Another key appointment by the Trump administration is James F. Jeffrey as Special Representative for Syria Engagement. Jeffrey is an enormously experienced foreign policy official, a Turkish-speaking diplomat who has served as US Ambassador to both of Syria's key neighbors, Iraq and Turkey, and was also Deputy National Security Advisor in George W. Bush's second term.

Jeffrey was one the dozens of signatories of the 'Never Trump' letters by leading Republican national security officials during the 2016 presidential election campaign. In the past, signing such a letter would have torpedoed your chance of serving in a significant role in the administration, but in Jeffrey's case his subject matter expertise has apparently trumped the letter.

Brian Hook, who ran policy planning at the State Department for Tillerson and was widely regarded as one of the few competent officials appointed by Tillerson, was named special envoy for Iran in August.

The same month, Stephen Biegun, who has had much experience in national security roles on Capitol Hill and at the White House, was appointed special representative for North Korea.

To be sure, Trump himself is so mercurial that even with the appointments of some real heavy hitters to deal with the most challenging foreign policy issues of our time, he can dramatically change his mind on matters relating to any range of countries from Afghanistan to Saudi Arabia.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 145636

Reported Deaths: 3745
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto963299
Hinds9584195
Harrison6848109
Jackson6124118
Rankin528598
Lee484295
Madison4633105
Forrest368186
Jones345287
Lauderdale3350143
Lafayette315049
Washington3097107
Lamar281849
Oktibbeha239261
Bolivar239083
Lowndes228863
Neshoba2164115
Panola211749
Marshall208350
Leflore200890
Pontotoc194728
Monroe190277
Sunflower189755
Lincoln186165
Warren172257
Tate164251
Union160925
Pike160458
Copiah158940
Yazoo151239
Scott150229
Itawamba147634
Coahoma147443
Pearl River144467
Simpson144253
Alcorn143925
Prentiss140429
Grenada136945
Adams136548
Leake131843
Holmes124961
George122224
Tippah121530
Covington117636
Winston116624
Wayne115823
Hancock114139
Marion111046
Attala107833
Tishomingo106142
Newton102729
Chickasaw102432
Tallahatchie95527
Clarke88553
Clay87027
Jasper81122
Walthall75028
Stone72414
Montgomery71925
Calhoun71613
Carroll70614
Lawrence70214
Yalobusha69427
Noxubee69217
Smith68816
Perry65225
Tunica59619
Greene58422
Claiborne57416
Jefferson Davis54217
Humphreys52618
Amite51214
Benton48417
Quitman4796
Webster42014
Kemper40917
Wilkinson38622
Jefferson33811
Franklin3235
Choctaw3077
Sharkey30617
Issaquena1114
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 236865

Reported Deaths: 3472
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson31043491
Mobile19446360
Tuscaloosa12684150
Madison12528146
Montgomery12122235
Shelby992276
Baldwin837684
Lee759765
Morgan626247
Calhoun6049113
Etowah600564
Marshall596153
Houston510838
DeKalb469635
Cullman421136
Limestone408844
St. Clair403955
Elmore398961
Lauderdale387253
Walker356199
Talladega339044
Jackson302524
Colbert297641
Blount282236
Autauga266139
Franklin246233
Coffee236615
Dale228454
Dallas222331
Russell21923
Chilton218537
Covington215933
Escambia196931
Tallapoosa171790
Chambers171448
Pike156014
Clarke155319
Marion135535
Winston126623
Lawrence123936
Geneva11848
Pickens117618
Marengo117424
Barbour116710
Bibb115717
Butler114341
Randolph100321
Cherokee99624
Hale93231
Washington89918
Clay89623
Fayette86216
Henry8436
Lowndes78929
Monroe77911
Cleburne75614
Macon71720
Crenshaw70330
Bullock69019
Conecuh68214
Perry6726
Lamar6337
Wilcox62818
Sumter56222
Choctaw41813
Greene41317
Coosa3144
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