18 February 2021

Get, Ya Think?

Why yes, I am inclined to believe that, "Release of intelligence on Khashoggi killing could push U.S.-Saudi relations to new lows," as well it should.

They murdered a US resident in their consulate, and the Clown Crown Prince ordered it. 

It makes for awkward conversations during the cocktails:

Facing court cases and its own promises of transparency, the Biden administration is about to release a long-sought U.S. intelligence report concluding that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the 2018 killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The report, an unclassified summary of findings across the intelligence community produced by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), will be made public as early as next week, according to people familiar with the matter.

Plans for the release come as U.S.-Saudi relations have tumbled to a new low in recent weeks, with the administration canceling arms sales, criticizing human rights abuses and the harassment of dissidents, and pledging to “recalibrate” ties with the kingdom.

The administration has said it will continue to supply Saudi Arabia — the world’s biggest customer for U.S. weaponry — with the means to defend itself against regional adversaries, including Iran and the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in neighboring Yemen, and has indicated it wants to continue a robust counterterrorism partnership.

But it has also made clear that it will, in contrast to its predecessor, press the Saudis toward a diplomatic end to their war in Yemen and to moderate their own extremism, and it will not allow Riyadh to interfere with its plans to rejoin the Obama-era nuclear deal with Iran.


President Donald Trump made Saudi Arabia a linchpin of his administration’s Middle East policy. Choosing Riyadh as the destination for his first presidential trip abroad in 2017, he hailed the kingdom as the leader of the Muslim world and a major profit-maker for the U.S. defense industry.

Khashoggi, a self-exiled Saudi journalist who wrote critically of the kingdom’s leadership from his home in Virginia, including in columns for The Washington Post, was brutally murdered in October 2018. Lured to the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul to pick up paperwork required for his planned marriage to a Turkish citizen, he was drugged and his body dismembered by Saudi agents, according to investigations by the Turkish government and the United Nations.

Suspicion immediately fell on the ambitious heir to the throne, who was consolidating his power within the often fractious royal family. Despite Saudi government claims that he was not involved, the CIA concluded, in an assessment leaked later that year, that Mohammed had ordered the assassination.


In early 2019, Congress passed a law giving the Trump administration 30 days to submit an unclassified report by the ODNI with “a determination and evidence with respect to the advance knowledge and role of any current or former official of Saudi Arabia . . . over the directing, ordering or tampering of evidence in the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.” It specifically ordered a release of names.

Trump ignored the mandate. In February 2020, his ODNI informed congressional leaders that it was “unable to provide additional information . . . at the unclassified level,” and sent them a copy of the classified CIA assessment.


At Avril Haines’s confirmation hearing to become Biden’s national intelligence director, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) asked if she would release the ODNI report.

“Yes, Senator. Actually, we’ll follow the law,” Haines replied.


Even without Haines’s determination and pressure from Congress, efforts to force release have been moving rapidly through federal court in the Southern District of New York.

The first of two cases filed by the Open Society Justice Initiative under the Freedom of Information Act is a broad 2019 request for “all records” related to the killing and who was responsible, including the classified CIA report. Ordered by the court to produce an index of anything that might be responsive, the Trump administration in December asked for an extension of the deadline. The Biden administration has now asked for an additional extension, until next month.


Some experts believe that if both sides are willing, and nuanced diplomacy is pursued, they can still find a way to work productively together. “Once this report comes out, and it’s very damning to the crown prince, it’s going to be tense,” Karen Young of the American Enterprise Institute said in an interview. “But I think everybody has sort of factored that in. . . . Everybody understands that this was a decision that he had something to do with.”


Mohammed also serves as his country’s defense minister, and the administration is likely to focus on his role there as the proper level of contact.

“But will there be Oval Office visits?” she said. “No, definitely not.”

I'm not going to talk the moral issues here, the House of Saud is an absolute monarchy and is corrupt and it is not a reliable ally in any matter, so as a matter of basic common sense, tightly embracing Riyadh as a central pillar of our foreign policy is stupid.

Also, it's increasingly clear, particularly now that the psychopathic moron Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud is running things, is that the House is doomed, and it will be overthrown sooner rather than later.

The best outcome would be that the House of Saud is overthrown in the manner of the House of Windsor, and so a lot of the (very) extended clan would need to find real work, and a few would serve as figureheads, and open hospitals and the like.

The worst outcome would be that the House of Saud is overthrown in the manner of the House of Romanov, which would be a horror show, considering the not-inconsiderable hydrocarbon assets in the kingdom and the fact that 2 of Islam's holiest sites are located there, Medina and Mecca.

The longer that we prop up the House of Saud, and the longer that we prop up Mohammed bin Salman, the more likely that the transition to post-monarchy in that country will be violent and messy.


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