October 20, 2018

After watching the Saudis behead and even reportedly crucify critics and opponents for decades, suddenly Washington’s great and good are outraged by a single murder.

The victim was a Saudi columnist from that nation’s elite who was noted for his moderate, cautious views, who was also linked to the former Saudi intelligence chief, Turki al-Faisal.

But even gentle criticism of the royal government, and particularly its strongman, crown prince Mohammed bin Salman (aka MBS), caused Khashoggi to be murdered and cut up into pieces in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, to where he was lured last week and from whence he never emerged alive. Turkish intelligence secretly monitoring the Saudi consulate picked up the gruesome details as Khashoggi’s fingers were reportedly cut off, followed by his head.

Khashoggi wrote for numerous papers, including The Washington Post. He had become a pesky journalist who irked the headstrong Saudi crown prince who likely cried, like England’s King Henry II, ‘will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?’

As a former pesky journalist for newspapers in Qatar and Dubai, and Turkey, I am appalled by this crime. Crown Prince Mohammed has been arresting, detaining, shaking down and intimidating his subjects, all applauded by Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner who is deep in bed with the moneybags Saudis.
I’m surprised that the Saudis didn’t ask the Israelis, who are very good at assassination and kidnapping, to go after Khashoggi.

The uproar in Washington and the tame US media contrasted to their silence regarding the fate of other journalists killed or held in prison in Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, both US client states. Al-Jazeera’s Cairo correspondent Mahmoud Hussein has been held in prison for two years without charge because he dared write about Egypt’s former democratic government that was overthrown by a coup mounted by Saudi Arabia, the Gulf Emirates and Israel.

The US has been kidnapping, torturing and ‘disappearing’ alleged enemies ever since 9/11.

Back to the Saudis. In the face of their criminal behavior, President Donald Trump sought to wriggle away from the scandal by claiming that the murder might have been done by ‘rogue’ Saudi agents, a claim quickly echoed by the Saudis. But even the usual lap dog Republicans in the US Congress refused to swallow this baloney, calling for sanctions on Saudi Arabia.

Clearly, even the US Congress and media was growing nervous over Saudi Arabia’s genocidal war in Yemen that has killed over 10,000 civilians and provoked widespread famine and disease – all done with US and British weapons, advisors and intelligence support.

Not so fast, retorted Trump, whose business empire greatly benefitted from Saudi and Gulf cash. The Saudis have arms orders for $110 billion in the hopper and, claimed Trump, $400 billion in commercial orders pending. We can’t risk Riyadh cancelling this bonanza, said Trump. Just a week earlier, Trump had sneered that the Saudis could not defend themselves and had to rely on US protection.

Unstated by Trump was the tacit threat that the Saudis might cash in some of their trove of US Treasury bills. How many US legislators and journalists are on the Saudi payroll remains a deep, dark mystery.

Equally important, the Saudis and Emiratis are now closely allied to Israel’s far right government. Israel has been a door-opener for the Saudis and Gulf Emirates in Washington’s political circles. The Israel lobby is riding to the Saudi’s defense.

Meanwhile, we will observe the disgusting spectacle of the Trump administration trying to cover up this crime and protect its thuggish allies in Saudi Arabia while trying to provoke war with Iran.

Americans, who have been gulled by a multi-million-dollar PR blitz over the modernized ‘new’ Saudi Arabia, complete with a handful of female drivers and commercials about ‘empowered women,’ will begin to see what a corrupt, brutal regime they have so long and unquestionably supported.

The question will remain: who in the Saudi leadership was stupid enough to approve the murder of Khashoggi? Could this crime mark the beginning of the downfall of the medieval Saudi regime?

As the wise and cynical Tallyrand said about the murder of the young Duc d’Enghien, ‘worse than a crime, it was a mistake.’

Copyright Eric S. Margolis 2018

This post is in: Saudi Arabia, Turkey, USA


  1. You are right about Osama Bin Laden – how could a Democratic President order his execution? When right-wing leaders like Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher knew he wasn’t a terrorist like Nelson Mandella, but rather a “freedom fighter”. 🙂

  2. …and from the BBC, “The fiancée of murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi says she has declined an invitation to the White House by US President Donald Trump accusing him of not being sincere about investigating the killing.”
    No one has ever accused the Donald of being insincere, that I know of.

  3. Raj Sathya says:

    The Kashoggi murder reminds the Journalist Zahra Kazemi the dual citizen of Iran and Canada who worked in Africa,Latin – America,Caribbean,Palestinian territories and Afghanistan.Recurrent themes in her works were the documentation of poverty,destitution,forced exile and oppression.
    Apparently the both had same ending, both died at the hands of their captives and the both countries denied at first.In Zahras case the Iranian prisoners said she died of stroke while being interrogated while the Saudis said Kashoggi died in a fight at the consulate. Later in the medical report by the Iranian officials the female photography journalist had skull fracture,fingers missing,broken nose,severe abdominal bruising,swelling behind the head and bruised shoulders and evidence of flogging on the legs.The medical report claims she was mercilessly raped in the name of the Iranian gods.But in the case of Kashoggi his body was cut in pieces and kept in secret place.The Saudi government arrested some and am sure they will be released soon just like in Zahras Rape and murder case all the charges were dropped against the rapist and murderers.

  4. Thank God for Erice Margolis!! I have despised the Saudi royal family since 9/11 and the torture of an (INNOCENT) Canadian and thinly veiled threatens made against Bill Graham when he went to the Canadian man’s aid. My one fervent hope is that a US president will walk out just like Obama did and announce “The United States in a covert operation has killed Mohammed bin Salman. Well done Seal Team 6.” But Republicans like this guy.

  5. Some additional observations:
    • The Prince had wanted Khashoggi kidnapped and renditioned to the Kingdom. This information is contained in correspondence obtained by security agencies.
    • The Prince has shown himself to be a brutal heartless leader. This is evidenced by his actions in Yemen and Qatar and his detention of wealthy business leaders and relatives at the Saudi Ritz-Carleton hotel.
    • The Saudis originally stated that Khashoggi left the embassy; when proof that he didn’t was presented, they later changed their story to he was accidentally killed on site.
    • The Americans are in the process of providing weapons to this erratic despot. In addition, they are entering discussions with nuclearising Saudi Arabia, while wanting to eliminate Iran’s nuclear capability.
    There are likely a few others that I’ve missed.

  6. Trump seems willing to give the Saudis a free pass over the murder of Khashoggi, but as Eric notes, Washington, under both Democratic and Republican presidents, has been turning a blind eye to the Saudi government’s brutal regime for many years. In that regard, the US has been treating Saudi Arabia no different than many other countries that are nice to Israel and are otherwise friendly to US commercial and military interests, no matter how brutal those governments might be. But, woe to any government that dares to step out of line by threatening Israel and being unfriendly to US interests, especially if their country has oil.

  7. The execution of Khashoggi is wrong on so many levels. Khashoggi went into the embassy looking to start a fight and in the melee that ensued, he was accidently killed. That’s the current ‘spin’.
    Some observations:
    • Coincidentally, the Kingdom had arranged for him to return to the embassy at a later date, so a ‘hit squad’ could be assembled to greet him.
    • 15 murderers had flown in from the Kingdom and had departed within hours of his ‘disappearance’. For another country to blatantly execute a person on foreign soil seems to be the current norm. Russia does it in the UK, the Saudis in Turkey.
    • The medical forensic expert included a bone saw as part of his normal kit. The bone saw did not ‘trigger’ any of the alarm systems. I would have thought that they would have the latest in detection equipment.
    • The embassy and the residence were ‘commercially’ cleaned and parts re-painted prior to allowing investigators in.
    • His body has not been recovered to undertake an autopsy to determine the cause of death.
    • Pompeo flew over and appeared to be great terms with the Prince. The Turks offered him a their taped evidence of the murder; he declined to review it.
    • The American Senate came out with a very strong bi-partisan message that was in contradiction of the President. Nothing has happened, and, it will likely go the way of the Kavanaugh confirmaton. Several weeks have passed and nothing has come of the murder.
    • The Donald does not refer to him as an American resident, and, the reason the FBI are not involved is because Khashoggi is not an American citizen. I seem to recall other countries requesting FBI assistance in past.
    • I don’t think anything happens in the Kingdom without the approval of the Prince.
    • There has been no activity in extradition of the perps for interrogation; I understand the Turks are great at that.
    • The ‘head’ of the embassy (title excapes me) commented about what was happening he was threatened with recall and death. He should be interrogated.
    • One of the perps was accidentally killed in a car crash. I suspect he will be the ‘fall guy’.
    • Despite all the security cameras, there seems to be no video record of what happened.
    • The Donald has family fortunes tied to connections with Saudi Arabia. The Senate oversight has not taken him to task for this, or, even questioned it.
    • .
    The Donald insists it was a rogue operation, gone bad, and has offered explanations to the Prince.
    There are some bigger issues. The Senate seems to have given the President a carte blanche for any and all of his actions. This is not in keeping with their responsibilities or in the best interests of the Republic.
    The American reputation, internationally, continues to ‘take a hit’. There has been little comment on this, and, I suspect the other nations are being bullied.
    There has been a huge decline in the moral quality of the US since the early 1960s. I’m not sure if there ever was a moral quality; this is a recollection from my early childhood. It may be a perception borne from my early childhood.
    There is little difference between the assassination of Khashoggi and the extrajudicial execution of Osama Bin Laden, and, the Americans were OK with that… We live in interesting times.

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