Good news. The world will know soon what really happened to Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi whose disappearance is now a geopolitical flashpoint and threatens to upend relations between Washington and Riyadh.
You might think you already know what happened to Khashoggi because after all, Turkish intelligence told you he was murdered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
And sure, Turkish media released CCTV footage to support that claim. And yes, one of the men traveling with the purported “hit squad” featured in that footage is Salah Muhammad al-Tubaigy, chief of forensic evidence and an autopsy expert in the Saudi public security directorate of the Interior Ministry.
And yes, Saudi intelligence has informed the U.S. that they are in possession of actual audio tape of Khashoggi being tortured and murdered.
But it’s best to reserve judgment until a thorough investigation is conducted by the only people who can be trusted to get to the bottom of this situation in a fair and impartial manner: The Saudi monarchy.
On Monday, one Saudi official says King Salman has now ordered a Saudi public prosecutor to investigate what happened to Khashoggi and the investigation is purportedly based in part on the evidence presented by Turkish intelligence. Evidence the rest of the world has already seen.
The official, who spoke to Bloomberg, said this:
The feeling from the leadership was we needed an internal investigation to make sure we’re getting the right story here.
Yes, the monarchy “needed an internal investigation” because they felt like maybe they weren’t “getting the right story.”
Maybe, for instance, MbS didn’t properly account for the hotel expenses of the 15-member hit team. Or perhaps there’s a discrepancy in jet fuel costs for those two Gulfstream IVs that transported the assassination squad from Riyadh to Istanbul. You know, clerical matters.
Obviously, this is farcical in the extreme. Saudi Arabia is investigating itself and everyone is supposed to pretend like somehow, a public prosecutor assigned the case by King Salman is going to hold Mohammed bin Salman accountable for a murder that everyone on planet Earth knows he probably ordered.
Sillier still is the notion that Washington would even entertain this circus considering the U.S. was (by the accounts of intelligence officials who spoke to the Washington Post) in possession of intelligence intercepts prior to Khashoggi’s disappearance which clearly indicate that bin Salman was, at the very least, attempting to lure him (Khashoggi) back to Saudi Arabia.
Invariably, though, the Trump administration will attempt to lean on the results of the Saudi “investigation” when explaining to lawmakers on Capitol Hill why the U.S. shouldn’t be too hard on Jared Kushner’s friend in Riyadh.