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Jared Kushner. Photo supplied
Washington

Khashoggi was not the first casualty of Saudi regime

Jamal Khashoggi was not the first victim of the Saudi regime allegedly hunted down and murdered. And President Donald Trump and his family, including son-in-law Jared Kushner, have meanwhile been supporting Saudi Arabia’s bizarre explanation for the murder of Washington-based Saudi journalist Khashoggi.

Published: October 28, 2018, 7:22 am

    Trump condemned the killing and has said that he believes there was a Saudi cover-up — but will not implicate bin Salman, who Trump said has denied any role.

    According to The Times of Israel, Kushner will not to alienate MbS over the grisly murder of Khashoggi, arguing that MbS could survive the outrage over the murder, just as he “weathered past criticism”.

    Trump’s son-in-law has a close relationship with Bin Salman, as Bob Woodward reported in his book Fear. In a CNN interview last week, Kushner was asked: “Do you trust the Saudis to investigate themselves? It seems like MbS is like the prime suspect and he’s also the prime investigator.”

    Kushner responded that facts were being used to “determine what we want to believe” prompting a storm of derision on social media. House Intelligence Committee member Joaquin Castro, directly accused Kushner of being complicit in the murder.

    “Jared Kushner may have, with US intelligence, delivered a hit list, an enemies list, to the crown prince, to MbS, in Saudi Arabia and that the prince may have acted on that, and one of the people he took action against is Mr. Khashoggi.”

    Khashoggi was murdered in the Saudi Consulate-General in Istanbul on October 2, 2018. After Kushner held a series of meetings in October 2017 with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS), it is alleged that the Crown Prince became emboldened to strike out his political enemies and royal rivals.

    Saudi Prince Khaled bin Farhan al-Saud, who has lived in exile in Germany since 2004 and is a critic of the MbS regime, reported in an interview with the DPA German press agency that, in late September 2018, one of his relatives met with Saudi embassy officials in Cairo to “help him”.

    All that was needed, the Saudi diplomats told the relative, was for Khaled to go to the Saudi embassy in Cairo to pick up his cheque, but Khaled suspected a trap. Khaled told DPA, “they would have killed me in some inhuman way in order to scare off others”.

    In 2017, Saudi officials approached German officials to have them extradite Khaled to Saudi Arabia. The German government ignored the Saudi request and instead increased his personal security detail.

    In January 2016, Prince Sultan bin Turki, who lived in Paris, planned to fly from Boston to Cairo to visit his father. But the MbS government provided a private jet for the prince that flew the Sultan to Riyadh instead. He has disappeared since.

    In late 2015, Prince Turki bin Bandar, who also lived in Paris, was visiting Morocco. The Moroccan authorities arrested him and extradited him to Saudi Arabia. He has disappeared since.

    A friend of Prince Khaled, Saudi royal house member Saud bin Saif al-Nasr, lived in Milan, where he called for the ouster of King Salman and MbS. Saud was lured to a business meeting in Rome, where he was kidnapped by Saudi agents. Saud has disappeared since.

    In November 2017, MBS rounded up and detained in the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton Hotel some 200 Saudi princes, government ministers, businessmen, and others for interrogation sessions.

    One of the princes detained by MbS was Saudi multi-billionaire Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, formerly the largest single shareholder in Citigroup. Since his release from three months of detention in the Ritz-Carlton, Al-Waleed is no longer a billionaire.

    Al-Waleed had been a loud critic of Trump’s proposed Muslim ban during the 2016 presidential campaign.

    The Saudis have been buying time with the announcement of Khashoggi’s death, by relieving Saudi consul general in Istanbul Mohammed al-Otaibi of his duties, firing 18 members of the Saudi royal court and intelligence service, “arranging” a car accident in Riyadh that killed one of the hit team members – Meshal Saad al-Bostani – and announcing an investigation commission to be headed by none other than MbS.

    Trump has meanwhile stressed that he did not want anything to scupper the “$110 billion [in Saudi military purchases] from being spent in this country”. The Saudis however have only committed to the buying of $14,5 billion in US weaponry.

    At an impromptu White House press gathering on October 13, Trump told the media: “I tell you what I don’t want to do. Boeing, Lockheed, Raytheon, all these companies. I don’t want to hurt jobs. I don’t want to lose an order like that.”

    The Saudi National Guard (SANG), whose ranks are made up of members of various Saudi tribes, is leading a major internal Saudi power struggle against MbS, Strategic Culture reported.

    “Thanks to decades of support from various US defense and intelligence contractors, including the CIA-linked Vinnell Corporation of Fairfax, Virginia, SANG has its own intelligence-gathering apparatus. SANG rebels have reportedly made a temporary alliance with the intelligence service of Qatar, since both view MbS as their common enemy.”

    The report concluded: “It is this combined SANG-Qatari intelligence capability, coupled with Turkish leads on the Khashoggi murder, that should cause Kushner to have many a sleepless night.”

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