FEELING THE HEAT
Saudi Arabia might be ready to talk.
Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi journalist who went missing two weeks ago after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Turkish officials say the Saudi gov ordered a hit team to kill and dismember him. This isn't just freaky – it's a diplomatic crisis.
Isn't repression on-brand for Saudi Arabia?
Yes – but Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) is dialing it up to 100. Last year, he was feeling insecure about his hold on power. He arrested hundreds of people as part of a crackdown on alleged corruption. He also let women start driving…but arrested several female activists. There was outcry in both cases, but nothing like what's happening now.
Yup. Turkey – who isn't one to talk about press freedom – has been asking for access to the consulate so it could investigate. At first, Saudi Arabia denied everything – and promised to let officials in. It followed through yesterday, but not before a cleaning crew got first dibs. Now, the kingdom apparently realizes no one is buying its story and might be ready to talk. But it's apparently going to claim that his death was an accident. It also may or may not claim that rogue operatives were just trying to kidnap him and send him back to Saudi Arabia. And that things went wrong in the interrogation. Then how do you explain the bone saw?
What happens next?
Consequences…or not. Over the weekend, President Trump said that if Saudi Arabia is responsible, there will be "severe punishment." But he also downplayed things yesterday, saying it could be the act of "rogue killers." Wonder where he got that from. He's also made it clear he doesn't want to risk that sweet, sweet Saudi money – and sent Sec of State Mike Pompeo there to get to the bottom of things.
This also comes as Saudi Arabia is set to host its second "Davos in the Desert" investment conference. But now some CEOs are RSVP'ing 'hard pass.'
Jamal Khashoggi's disappearance has launched an international crisis. If the Saudi gov admits he was killed under its watch, it could seriously strain a US-Saudi relationship the Trump admin has been working hard to build. Or not.
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