Saudi Crown Prince Threatened to Kill Khashoggi Months Before His Murder?
Jamal Khashoggi was a marked man. Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman (MBS) clearly wanted him eliminated.
According to the NYT, "he told a top aide…in 2017 that he would use 'a bullet' on (him) if (he) did not return to the kingdom and end his criticism of the Saudi government" - citing unnamed current and former US and foreign officials, allegedly based on intelligence reports.
The CIA and UK MI6 want MBS replaced. His elevation to power displaced Mohammad bin Nayef as heir to the Saudi throne, a Western intelligence favorite.
Langley considers MBS too reckless and untrustworthy to lead the kingdom, wanting a crown prince it can more easily control.
International furor over Khashoggi's murder has nothing to do with Saudi human rights abuses internally and abroad - non-issues for nearly a century in Riyadh's relations with the West.
The only issue with MBS is over his unreliability as a US ally, notably on energy and dealings with Russia.
The US also fears he may abandon the petrodollar by selling oil to China in yuan, what Beijing apparently demands. If Riyadh goes along, other Gulf states will likely follow to accommodate China, the world's largest oil consumer, what the US wants avoided.
According to the Times, MBS and top aide Turki Aldakhil discussed killing Khashoggi in 2017. The crown prince allegedly wanted him forced back to the kingdom if unwilling to return voluntarily.
MBS also allegedly discussed eliminating Khashoggi with Saud al-Qahtani, the figure US intelligence officials believe led the assassination team in Istanbul last October.
The Times claimed Qahtani cautioned MBS that killing Khashoggi might cause an international uproar, MBS allegedly said "Saudi Arabia should not care about the international reaction to how it handles its own citizens," adding:
He "did not like half-measures. He never liked them and did not believe in them," according to an unnamed US intelligence official.
There's no ambiguity about MBS' responsibility for Khashoggi's murder. No one in the kingdom would dare circumvent his authority as de facto ruler.
His father, king Salman, reportedly is in poor health. A power struggle has been ongoing to succeed him since assuming the throne in January 2015 – because of his reported failing health.
Rumors circulated for months that he might formally abdicate the throne in favor of his favorite son, making MBS the kingdom's youngest ever king.
The Times report was published at the same time as an assessment from a UN-led inquiry, saying evidence shows Khashoggi was victimized by "a brutal and premeditated killing, planned and perpetrated by officials of the state of Saudi Arabia."
Both reports came a day ahead of a congressional deadline for the White House to report on whether MBS ordered Khashoggi's murder and what, if any, actions Trump intends to take.
Given CIA hostility toward MBS, the timing of the Times and UN reports may be part of a plan to delegitimize him, wanting him replaced as crown prince with someone the US intelligence establishment can more easily control.
So far, Trump stands by MBS, earlier saying "(h)e's the leader of Saudi Arabia." Despite the CIA concluding that he ordered Khashoggi's assassination, DLT called the assessment "very premature."
The Times is the leading establishment media mouthpiece for the imperial state, operating as a CIA asset against MBS, what its report is all about - even though it's indisputable that the crown prince ordered Khashoggi's murder.
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