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: 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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