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: 549830

Reported Deaths: 7067
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1145171675
Ramsey47380851
Dakota42007420
Anoka38065415
Washington24723273
Stearns20819218
St. Louis16620297
Scott15798117
Wright14643125
Olmsted1268297
Sherburne1046080
Carver970145
Clay777389
Rice7554101
Blue Earth690640
Kandiyohi623979
Crow Wing607986
Chisago543749
Otter Tail539373
Benton526097
Mower449532
Douglas438970
Goodhue438271
Winona437249
Nobles398748
Morrison391159
McLeod387854
Beltrami370557
Isanti370359
Itasca366052
Polk362467
Steele357714
Becker350248
Lyon346748
Carlton327052
Freeborn325029
Pine309221
Nicollet304142
Brown293139
Mille Lacs277350
Le Sueur268022
Todd267230
Cass247426
Meeker232737
Waseca229520
Martin211529
Wabasha19913
Roseau195518
Hubbard170541
Dodge17033
Renville169743
Redwood165435
Houston162114
Cottonwood155320
Fillmore15149
Pennington149519
Chippewa144636
Faribault142919
Wadena142721
Sibley134910
Aitkin127836
Kanabec127621
Watonwan12529
Rock121719
Jackson115910
Yellow Medicine110119
Pipestone109125
Murray10209
Pope10146
Swift98618
Marshall85317
Stevens80510
Lake78019
Clearwater76614
Wilkin76512
Koochiching76212
Lac qui Parle73422
Big Stone5594
Lincoln5572
Grant5438
Norman5209
Mahnomen4948
Unassigned48278
Kittson46222
Red Lake3857
Traverse3595
Lake of the Woods2993
Cook1440

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 356912

Reported Deaths: 5810
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk55819602
Linn20248329
Scott18949234
Black Hawk15517306
Woodbury14872220
Johnson1397781
Dubuque13115202
Dallas1087696
Pottawattamie10703162
Story1028547
Warren553586
Clinton536490
Cerro Gordo521186
Webster507991
Sioux505073
Marshall476874
Muscatine457896
Des Moines440665
Wapello4250120
Buena Vista421440
Jasper407670
Plymouth396779
Lee367755
Marion354375
Jones292955
Henry285937
Carroll279050
Bremer278960
Crawford262039
Boone257833
Benton249655
Washington249249
Dickinson240643
Mahaska224049
Jackson217842
Kossuth212362
Clay209825
Tama206571
Delaware202539
Winneshiek193933
Page190320
Buchanan188231
Cedar183423
Fayette182841
Wright180135
Hardin179242
Hamilton177949
Harrison175373
Clayton166655
Butler162434
Mills158020
Cherokee156738
Floyd155242
Lyon154341
Madison153519
Poweshiek152433
Allamakee149051
Iowa145324
Hancock143334
Winnebago135831
Grundy135032
Cass134354
Calhoun133111
Jefferson130535
Emmet128340
Shelby127337
Sac126819
Appanoose126647
Louisa126549
Mitchell125241
Union124032
Chickasaw122515
Humboldt118126
Guthrie117729
Franklin112521
Palo Alto110421
Howard102822
Montgomery100237
Unassigned10020
Clarke98023
Keokuk94430
Monroe93528
Ida89433
Adair84332
Pocahontas83321
Monona80930
Davis79924
Greene76410
Osceola75016
Lucas74922
Worth7078
Taylor65112
Fremont61210
Decatur5899
Van Buren55518
Ringgold53423
Wayne51923
Audubon4949
Adams3284
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