Saudis finally admit journalists death was premeditated, but questions still remain over crown prince’s involvement
One day after the Saudi government denied killing U.S. based Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who had been critical of it, the New York Times is reporting that they are now calling the murder of Khashoggi premeditated, as the Turkish government had already been claiming.
This represents the latest in a shifting story weaved by the Saudi government and its crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, who has become a central figure in speculation that the government was involved in Khashoggi’s murder and cover up at the Saudi consulate in Turkey. Several of those who are now known to be involved in killing the journalist have a connection to Salman.
The Saudis have finally allowed for a well located around the consulate to be investigated. Khashoggi’s body still has not been discovered, even though his son met with Salman amidst widespread criticism.
It was speculated that the Saudis would not let Khashoggi’s son leave to keep family members from speaking out about the murder of his father, but he was allowed back to the United States.
Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been working behind the scenes to gather evidence that contradicts the Saudis framing of events around Jamal Khashoggi’s murder. Erdogan claims to have audio evidence that proves Khashoggi’s death was planned, but that evidence does not connect the murder to the crown prince of Saudi Arabia.
Erdogan’s officials have leaked several key details that pointed at a premeditated murder as the Saudi’s first tried to claim they had nothing to do with it, then that it was an accident, which eventually forced the Saudis to admit that Khashoggi was murdered. Salman even went so far as to call the act “heinous” and “unjustified,” but the change of tone hasn’t so far worked to eliminate rigorous scrutiny of his actions from the international political community.
But there is basically no way to pressure Salman from his post as de facto head of Saudi Arabia. His father, 82-year-old King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Said, is reportedly too ill and favors Salman too much to change command at this point in time.
Although Trump and his administration have remained friendly with Salman and continue expressing doubts about their involvement, the U.S. has revoked its clearance for the 18 men arrested in connection with the murder of Khashoggi.
As Illnur Cevik, a member of Erdogan’s advisory court writes in the Daily Sabah, a newspaper in Turkey, “(Trump) may try to stand up for [Mohammed] so Washington can use him for its plans against Iran… However, from now on, wherever the crown prince goes, he will be regarded as the man with Khashoggi’s blood on his hands.”