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 1:10 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.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 609016

Reported Deaths: 7741
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1261631795
Ramsey52955910
Dakota47198475
Anoka43176465
Washington27637296
Stearns22651227
St. Louis18233319
Scott17667139
Wright16506153
Olmsted13495103
Sherburne1211496
Carver1073349
Clay829392
Rice8247111
Blue Earth769244
Crow Wing687298
Kandiyohi669685
Chisago626754
Otter Tail589887
Benton585098
Goodhue485474
Mower477333
Douglas477281
Winona463252
Itasca462668
Isanti445066
McLeod433861
Morrison427462
Beltrami410163
Nobles409650
Steele400519
Polk390772
Becker389157
Lyon365054
Carlton356858
Freeborn350134
Pine337223
Nicollet333845
Mille Lacs314556
Brown308640
Le Sueur299427
Todd288033
Cass287933
Meeker265144
Waseca240723
Martin236833
Roseau212021
Wabasha20833
Hubbard197641
Dodge18883
Renville183046
Redwood177941
Houston175316
Cottonwood168124
Wadena164923
Fillmore158910
Faribault156920
Chippewa154038
Pennington153820
Kanabec147828
Sibley147310
Aitkin139137
Watonwan13619
Rock129019
Jackson123112
Pipestone117126
Yellow Medicine115320
Pope11366
Murray107210
Swift107218
Koochiching96819
Stevens92611
Clearwater89217
Marshall88817
Lake84020
Wilkin83713
Lac qui Parle76122
Big Stone6094
Grant5958
Lincoln5863
Mahnomen5669
Norman5509
Kittson49022
Unassigned47993
Red Lake4037
Traverse3815
Lake of the Woods3474
Cook1740

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 374664

Reported Deaths: 6109
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk58891646
Linn21448342
Scott20426250
Black Hawk16680319
Woodbury15319230
Johnson1473686
Dubuque13595213
Dallas1144099
Pottawattamie11307177
Story1082848
Warren592092
Clinton564393
Cerro Gordo562297
Webster538996
Sioux519174
Muscatine4920106
Marshall491479
Des Moines478275
Jasper452073
Wapello4366123
Buena Vista431040
Plymouth404982
Lee392658
Marion369177
Jones301257
Henry301037
Bremer292763
Carroll286252
Boone271234
Crawford270841
Benton262755
Washington259851
Dickinson250745
Mahaska232551
Jackson225842
Kossuth219166
Clay217327
Tama213372
Delaware211743
Winneshiek200636
Buchanan196734
Page195422
Cedar192923
Hardin191144
Wright189140
Fayette188243
Hamilton186851
Harrison181973
Clayton173057
Butler167835
Madison167719
Floyd164642
Mills163824
Cherokee161538
Lyon160941
Poweshiek159036
Allamakee155552
Hancock153134
Iowa148324
Winnebago145731
Calhoun143113
Cass140855
Grundy139333
Emmet136741
Jefferson134535
Sac132620
Shelby131838
Louisa130249
Union129535
Appanoose128049
Franklin127823
Mitchell127243
Chickasaw125717
Guthrie124532
Humboldt124526
Palo Alto114924
Montgomery106738
Howard105322
Clarke102424
Monroe100633
Keokuk99932
Ida92735
Adair89632
Davis86825
Pocahontas86822
Monona85931
Greene79111
Osceola79017
Lucas77423
Worth7568
Taylor67112
Decatur6629
Fremont64810
Ringgold56824
Van Buren56718
Wayne56323
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