After last week, you probably didn’t have any lingering questions as to whether Donald Trump was ever going to hold Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman accountable for the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
On Friday evening, multiple media outlets reported that the CIA has determined Prince Mohammed in fact gave the order, a conclusion the entire world came to six weeks ago, but which the White House is reluctant to countenance for fear of irritating Riyadh.
On Saturday morning, before departing for California to survey damage from a series of devastating wild fires, Trump suggested that he wasn’t prepared to accept the CIA’s conclusions.
He followed up on that in an interview with Chris Wallace. Here is the dubious clip:
Simply put, the White House isn’t going to move against bin Salman. The President is afraid that if the U.S. implicates the Crown Prince, it will jeopardize the administration’s efforts to squeeze Iran, undermine Trump’s ability to influence oil prices and, perhaps most importantly, set the stage for a coup in Riyadh, where competing royals are reportedly plotting to usurp King Salman’s favorite son.
“Amid international uproar over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, some members of Saudi Arabia’s ruling family are agitating to prevent Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman from becoming king”, Reuters reported on Monday, citing three sources close to the royal court. Here’s a bit more:
Dozens of princes and cousins from powerful branches of the Al Saud family want to see a change in the line of succession but would not act while King Salman – the crown prince’s 82-year-old father – is still alive, the sources said. They recognize that the king is unlikely to turn against his favorite son, known in the West as MbS.
Clearly, that push would gain momentum were Washington to sanction Prince Mohammed.
And then there’s the arms deals and other economic considerations which Trump has made clear he prizes above all else.
Well, on Tuesday, Trump released an official statement on the Khashoggi murder which will apparently be the final word on the matter. Frankly, it is astonishing. It is riddled with bombast, wild punctation and permeated with abject absurdity.
What you’ll read below is not in any way, shape or form befitting of an official statement from the President of the United States and it is truly hard to believe that the administration expects the world to accept it as such.
Draw your own conclusions.
Full statement from the White House
The world is a very dangerous place!
The country of Iran, as an example, is responsible for a bloody proxy war against Saudi Arabia in Yemen, trying to destabilize Iraq’s fragile attempt at democracy, supporting the terror group Hezbollah in Lebanon, propping up dictator Bashar Assad in Syria (who has killed millions of his own citizens), and much more. Likewise, the Iranians have killed many Americans and other innocent people throughout the Middle East. Iran states openly, and with great force, “Death to America!” and “Death to Israel!” Iran is considered “the world’s leading sponsor of terror.”
On the other hand, Saudi Arabia would gladly withdraw from Yemen if the Iranians would agree to leave. They would immediately provide desperately needed humanitarian assistance. Additionally, Saudi Arabia has agreed to spend billions of dollars in leading the fight against Radical Islamic Terrorism.
After my heavily negotiated trip to Saudi Arabia last year, the Kingdom agreed to spend and invest $450 billion in the United States. This is a record amount of money. It will create hundreds of thousands of jobs, tremendous economic development, and much additional wealth for the United States. Of the $450 billion, $110 billion will be spent on the purchase of military equipment from Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and many other great U.S. defense contractors. If we foolishly cancel these contracts, Russia and China would be the enormous beneficiaries — and very happy to acquire all of this newfound business. It would be a wonderful gift to them directly from the United States!
The crime against Jamal Khashoggi was a terrible one, and one that our country does not condone. Indeed, we have taken strong action against those already known to have participated in the murder. After great independent research, we now know many details of this horrible crime. We have already sanctioned 17 Saudis known to have been involved in the murder of Mr. Khashoggi, and the disposal of his body.
Representatives of Saudi Arabia say that Jamal Khashoggi was an “enemy of the state” and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, but my decision is in no way based on that — this is an unacceptable and horrible crime. King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman vigorously deny any knowledge of the planning or execution of the murder of Mr. Khashoggi. Our intelligence agencies continue to assess all information, but it could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event — maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!
That being said, we may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi. In any case, our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. They have been a great ally in our very important fight against Iran. The United States intends to remain a steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia to ensure the interests of our country, Israel and all other partners in the region. It is our paramount goal to fully eliminate the threat of terrorism throughout the world!
I understand there are members of Congress who, for political or other reasons, would like to go in a different direction — and they are free to do so. I will consider whatever ideas are presented to me, but only if they are consistent with the absolute security and safety of America. After the United States, Saudi Arabia is the largest oil producing nation in the world. They have worked closely with us and have been very responsive to my requests to keeping oil prices at reasonable levels — so important for the world. As President of the United States I intend to ensure that, in a very dangerous world, America is pursuing its national interests and vigorously contesting countries that wish to do us harm. Very simply it is called America First!