Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 30 of 36

Thread: A new test of US - Saudi relations

  1. #1

    Default A new test of US - Saudi relations

    Jamal Khashoggi, journalist—and prominent critic of the Saudi regime—may have been murdered by Saudi assassins in Istanbul:

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/world...2aa_story.html

    Of course, given the source, we should wait for independent corroboration. But, if true, this might in another time have been sufficient cause to cut Saudi Arabia right off.
    “Humanity's greatest advances are not in its discoveries, but in how those discoveries are applied to reduce inequity.”
    — Bill Gates

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Amsterdam/Istanbul
    Posts
    10,084
    Quote Originally Posted by Aimless View Post
    Jamal Khashoggi, journalist—and prominent critic of the Saudi regime—may have been murdered by Saudi assassins in Istanbul:

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/world...2aa_story.html

    Of course, given the source, we should wait for independent corroboration. But, if true, this might in another time have been sufficient cause to cut Saudi Arabia right off.
    Given that the relation between Turkey and Saudi Arabia is strained....
    Greece shows us that there is a kind of politician worse than the ones that break their election promises; the ones that keep their election promises.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Hazir View Post
    Given that the relation between Turkey and Saudi Arabia is strained....
    Hence the need to wait for independent corroboration. But if he really was murdered by Saudis, perhaps the absurd infatuation with MBS will finally come to an end. I don't expect anything else to change tbh.
    “Humanity's greatest advances are not in its discoveries, but in how those discoveries are applied to reduce inequity.”
    — Bill Gates

  4. #4
    Question arises: how much did US intelligence know?

    https://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog...w-a-us-scandal
    “Humanity's greatest advances are not in its discoveries, but in how those discoveries are applied to reduce inequity.”
    — Bill Gates

  5. #5
    Bizarre, moving narratives from total denial (and Trump believes strongman denials) to maybe a "botched" interrogation or rogue killers (did Trump float that theory on his own or get it from the Saudis?)

    It was stunning to see our Sec. of State meet with the royals, all smiles and photo ops shaking hands, when supposedly it's to find out the truth. Meeting should have been the Saudis coming here, and included our Ambassador -- but we don't have one, unless Jared counts -- plus security and intelligence reps. Going on 3 weeks now, and all we really know is that Trump doesn't want to lose money from potential arms sales. Pathetic.

  6. #6
    “Humanity's greatest advances are not in its discoveries, but in how those discoveries are applied to reduce inequity.”
    — Bill Gates

  7. #7
    Trump only cares about Trump. Through his ego-driven narcissistic lens, international diplomacy and statesmanship (even human rights) is simply a reality TV show/popularity contest, or a real estate deal; all things are reduced to money-making transactions. He puts a thin shiny veneer on the politics of greed that appeals to 30% of Americans (his base supporters) and calls it "America First" or MAGA.

    But then he calls our Free Press "fake news", derides our justice dept. and intelligence agencies as perpetrators of "hoaxes and witch-hunts", while praising despots and dictators that poison or murder political dissidents and/or hack our electoral systems. Since there is no push back from congress....shame on us for electing the biggest grifter-in-chief, and his cadre of enablers. Royal Family, huh.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by GGT View Post
    Trump only cares about Trump. Through his ego-driven narcissistic lens, international diplomacy and statesmanship (even human rights) is simply a reality TV show/popularity contest, or a real estate deal; all things are reduced to money-making transactions. He puts a thin shiny veneer on the politics of greed that appeals to 30% of Americans (his base supporters) and calls it "America First" or MAGA.

    But then he calls our Free Press "fake news", derides our justice dept. and intelligence agencies as perpetrators of "hoaxes and witch-hunts", while praising despots and dictators that poison or murder political dissidents and/or hack our electoral systems. Since there is no push back from congress....shame on us for electing the biggest grifter-in-chief, and his cadre of enablers. Royal Family, huh.
    Did you get it? Did you hunt down that squirrel?

    GGT's nonense aside, KSA can suck it. We've known since 9/11 that they suck, this whole "well they aren't as bad as the people who would replace them" only goes so far.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Aimless View Post
    Consider the situation we're in. There are two goals here we have here:

    1) The assassination cannot be allowed to go unanswered. There needs to be action taken that will make it clear than any repetitions would be a grave mistake. Punitive measures strong enough to dissuade any further attempts must be taken.
    2) Relations with Saudi Arabia cannot be allowed to turn hostile. Beyond the Western reliance on them for military access to the region, they're still in a position where an economic war would devastate the entire world economy.

    So we're in a situation where we have to accomplish two seemingly contradictory goals. How do you do that? We have to punch Saudi Arabia in the gut in a way that lets them stand up afterwards and thank us for being such good friends. So lets look at it from the position that Saudi Arabia is currently in. They also have two goals:

    A) Don't go hostile with the West. An economic war would devastate the West, but it'd be far, far worse for the Saudis. They're not ready to stand on their own yet, and we both know it.
    B) Maintain the power, prestige, and wealth they currently have as far as possible.

    Both sides know about the others goals. The Saudi's can't admit the operation was sanctioned because it'd conflict with goal B and threaten goal A. So we can't demand it, because we'd never receive it, and an unmet demand would force us to abandon one of our two goals. Even if we could, the Saudi's admitting culpability would actually run counter to our goals, as it would force us to choose between looking the other way (failing goal 1) or punishing ourselves to punish them (failing goal 2). The only way we can meet both of our goals is to let them meet most of theirs.

    So what are our options? We have to punish the assassination in a way that sends a clear message, but doesn't look like we're punishing the Saudis. One option would be to get them to hand over the people directly responsible, and some of the people indirectly responsible while maintaining a mutual lie that this was not an officially sanctioned operation. By getting the people directly responsible, we send a clear message that the Saudis won't and can't protect anyone who goes along with this in the future, and participating in shit like this is a bad idea for those involved, achieving goal 1. Goal 2 is achieved by maintaining the lie that the Saudi's are not themselves responsible, thus letting us get out of this mess without an economic war and without looking complicit. The Saudis get to meet both of their goals too, which makes this an achievable resolution.

    This isn't a pretty situation, but international politics rarely is. This isn't a courtroom, and real justice is out of reach. The only things we can really choose here are to either let all of the bad guys get away with it, punish some of the bad guys, or punish a whole bunch of innocent people. There's no solution here that lets us punish all the bad guys without a shit ton of collateral damage hitting a bunch of innocent people. The innocent people who'd get hit includes you personally - anyone reading this is one of the people who stands to be harmed if the West pushes too far. Justice isn't invited to this party, best we can do is a cardboard effigy. Maybe with a smiley face so she doesn't look so grim. And googly eyes. This kind of justice definitely needs googly eyes.

    The remaining details of this are a matter of negotiation and diplomacy. The West needs to get as many of the culprits as it can, the Saudis will want to give as few as they can, and either side can press the "economic war" button if things start looking too unacceptable. The West's two advantages are that economic war would hurt them worse than us, and that the longer this takes to play out the less achievable Saudi goal B is. So that's where we are now. There's doubtlessly a bunch of backroom negotiations happening right now as both sides are trying to figure out just how well they can meet their respective goals.

    So yeah, I know, "Fuck Trump!" but if you take a step back, the rogue agent angle is the one that ends in the best outcome here. Not because it's a great solution, but because all the other ones are worse.
    Last edited by Wraith; 10-19-2018 at 05:29 AM.

  10. #10
    An interesting analysis, Wraith. I agree with a lot of it, but I have to wonder, in the context of the priorities you outline for Saudi above, why they would have sanctioned the hit in the first place. Khashoggi was annoying, sure, but was he really such an existential threat to the Saudis and MBS personally that this kind of blatant assassination was the best approach? There are so many ways they could have hit him, and making him disappear from inside a Saudi consulate seems like a criminally stupid thing to do (even if they did decide that he had to go).

    It's possible this is a massive miscalculation - an American-affiliated journalist being assassinated in a NATO country seems intuitively to us to be one step too far, but maybe the Saudis didn't realize this would be uniquely troubling compared to, say, thousands of civilian deaths arising from illegal strikes in Yemen (which the West has conveniently turned a blind eye to). But I find that stretching credulity.

    The US can and does make a big stink about similar cause celebres - just think about everything that has happened since Bill Browder and Sergei Magnitsky pushed the Russian government too far. And Magnitsky was a largely unknown lawyer (outside of Russia) who was a Russian national, albeit one working for a prominent American. Did the Saudis really think no one would take umbrage?

    Something about this doesn't really add up - either that, or there have been some absolutely monumental miscalculations and screw-ups.
    "When I meet God, I am going to ask him two questions: Why relativity? And why turbulence? I really believe he will have an answer for the first." - Werner Heisenberg (maybe)

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by wiggin View Post
    Something about this doesn't really add up - either that, or there have been some absolutely monumental miscalculations and screw-ups.
    Incompetence is responsible for a lot of weird shit that goes on in the world.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by wiggin View Post
    An interesting analysis, Wraith. I agree with a lot of it, but I have to wonder, in the context of the priorities you outline for Saudi above, why they would have sanctioned the hit in the first place. Khashoggi was annoying, sure, but was he really such an existential threat to the Saudis and MBS personally that this kind of blatant assassination was the best approach? There are so many ways they could have hit him, and making him disappear from inside a Saudi consulate seems like a criminally stupid thing to do (even if they did decide that he had to go).

    It's possible this is a massive miscalculation - an American-affiliated journalist being assassinated in a NATO country seems intuitively to us to be one step too far, but maybe the Saudis didn't realize this would be uniquely troubling compared to, say, thousands of civilian deaths arising from illegal strikes in Yemen (which the West has conveniently turned a blind eye to). But I find that stretching credulity.

    The US can and does make a big stink about similar cause celebres - just think about everything that has happened since Bill Browder and Sergei Magnitsky pushed the Russian government too far. And Magnitsky was a largely unknown lawyer (outside of Russia) who was a Russian national, albeit one working for a prominent American. Did the Saudis really think no one would take umbrage?

    Something about this doesn't really add up - either that, or there have been some absolutely monumental miscalculations and screw-ups.
    Usually the reason is because they thought they could get away with it, but you're right, that alone is a bit hard to buy in this case. Maybe it was a bit too compartmentalized, and nobody really thought it through in advance. From the sounds of what's reportedly on the recordings from the totally-not-Turkish-bugs, it seems like the execution might have been accidental, and that it was only supposed to be an interrogation. Sorry, I mean interrogation. They might have planned on letting him walk out and then denying their way out of any trouble. But whatever happened, it doesn't really change the situation we're stuck in now, and we may never get a reliable answer anyways.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by wiggin View Post
    An interesting analysis, Wraith. I agree with a lot of it, but I have to wonder, in the context of the priorities you outline for Saudi above, why they would have sanctioned the hit in the first place. Khashoggi was annoying, sure, but was he really such an existential threat to the Saudis and MBS personally that this kind of blatant assassination was the best approach? There are so many ways they could have hit him, and making him disappear from inside a Saudi consulate seems like a criminally stupid thing to do (even if they did decide that he had to go).

    It's possible this is a massive miscalculation - an American-affiliated journalist being assassinated in a NATO country seems intuitively to us to be one step too far, but maybe the Saudis didn't realize this would be uniquely troubling compared to, say, thousands of civilian deaths arising from illegal strikes in Yemen (which the West has conveniently turned a blind eye to). But I find that stretching credulity.

    The US can and does make a big stink about similar cause celebres - just think about everything that has happened since Bill Browder and Sergei Magnitsky pushed the Russian government too far. And Magnitsky was a largely unknown lawyer (outside of Russia) who was a Russian national, albeit one working for a prominent American. Did the Saudis really think no one would take umbrage?

    Something about this doesn't really add up - either that, or there have been some absolutely monumental miscalculations and screw-ups.
    MbS is known for rash decision-making. See his spat with Canada. Or with Qatar. Or the entire war in Yemen. Perhaps Khashoggi published something that particularly offended him.
    Hope is the denial of reality

  14. #14
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Amsterdam/Istanbul
    Posts
    10,084
    They pretty much started the 'interrogation' with cutting off his fingers. They threatened the consul with death if he objected. They were ready to dismember his body and dispose of it. If you believe this was an operation with a different goal than the one it had, I have a bridge to sell.

    The man who ordered this is willing to throw people in prison for bloody agreeing with him. For no other reason than that their agreement makes him look weak.
    Greece shows us that there is a kind of politician worse than the ones that break their election promises; the ones that keep their election promises.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Hazir View Post
    They pretty much started the 'interrogation' with cutting off his fingers.
    No, no, no. He lost his fingers in a tragic boating accident. They were gone before he got there. I have twelve doctors here who will attest to that.

    I meant the kind where they sometimes forget to ask questions. Remember that we're in the post-Russian-polonium era. If you want to send a message, you gotta up your game.

    I'm kinda just guessing at how it went down, I don't have any real clue. There's a bit of a shortage of credible sources.
    Last edited by Wraith; 10-19-2018 at 06:25 AM.

  16. #16
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Amsterdam/Istanbul
    Posts
    10,084
    You must be aware of existence of a recording of the first three minutes of the interrogation. Either provided by his fiancée through means of his iPhone (with her) and his apple watch (on him). All what is needed for that to work is for him to have been on wifi at the consulate during his visit a couple of days before.

    Otherwise Erdoğan seems to be quite aware of the quality of the surveillance equipment of the consulate. Don't forget she had the number of an advisor of Erdoğan on the ready. There are not so many questions as to what happened. What is more relevant is who ordered it and finally : why do we know so much about it?

    Kashoggi wasn't just a journalist. He was up till quite recently part of the Saudi establishment.

    Finally, the purchase of the apartment in Istanbul should be highlighted: in all probability he was on a fast track to Turkish citizenship.
    Greece shows us that there is a kind of politician worse than the ones that break their election promises; the ones that keep their election promises.

  17. #17
    Yes, I know about the miracle watch.

    I don't consider Erdogan's Turkey to be a reliable source. I'm pretty confident that the Saudis killed Kashoggi in their consulate as part of a black op, but I still wouldn't put it past Turkey to enhance the evidence. They want to take the Saudis down a notch so they can move up in the region, and Erdogan has already proven to be a bit lacking in scruples. They're at the very least lying about the source of the recordings.

    Besides that, the narrative doesn't fully track. Opening with dismemberment is a hardcore move, but ending it by strangulation is pretty mundane. You don't lead with your best act. So here's some possibilities to resolve this:

    1) The point really was interrogation of the enhanced variety, and once they tortured the information out of him they didn't need him anymore so they just killed him. However, this implies a dispassionate approach that doesn't really track with usual Saudi methods - their culture puts too much stock in honor and vengeance for them to just end it with a shrug. They're usually a lot more creative.

    2) The point was the torture, but he was supposed to survive to be a walking billboard of what happens when you go against the Saudis. The strangulation was supposed to rattle him, but his torturers had a bit too much adrenaline going and accidentally crushed his windpipe. Everything after is explained by panic.

    3) They always intended to kill him, just not the way they did. The strangulation was off-script and accidentally ended things earlier than they wanted. If this were Russia, I'd be questioning why they killed him in such a grisly way if they were planning on covering it up, but for Saudi Arabia this actually tracks. Honor and vengeance again.

    4) Some or all of the evidence was fabricated or misrepresented.

    I'm not going to claim to really have a clue how it went down exactly, but I think some variation on 2 or 3 is the most likely here. Or maybe I'm totally off base. But does it really matter what the Saudi intent was? He's dead, and they did it.

  18. #18
    The kind of people present during the "interrogation" strongly suggests there was never an intention to let him live.
    Hope is the denial of reality

  19. #19
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Amsterdam/Istanbul
    Posts
    10,084
    So now they admit he was killed in the consulate I presume they can tell us where the body is.
    Greece shows us that there is a kind of politician worse than the ones that break their election promises; the ones that keep their election promises.

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Wraith View Post
    ... But does it really matter what the Saudi intent was? He's dead, and they did it.
    You're right about questioning Turkey's role (why wait 5 days to start releasing info to the press?) and that we'll probably never get a full, accurate story. But this is more than just a whodunnit murder mystery with high-risk geopolitical implications. As the OP title says; this is a new test of US-Saudi relations. Since it's happening under Trump's tenure, we should be asking questions of his administration, too.

    Why don't we have US Ambassadors assigned to either nation? Why is Jared Kushner in charge of middle-east policy? Why do our congressional committees (foreign relations, intelligence, national security etc.) let Trump's "personal relationships" and "gut instincts" have such influence?

    What do our own intelligence agencies know, when did they know it....and does Trump believe *them* or whatever the hell the Saudis say after 'investigating' themselves?

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by Hazir View Post
    So now they admit he was killed in the consulate I presume they can tell us where the body is.
    Spontaneous combustion, obviously.
    Hope is the denial of reality

  22. #22
    Looks like we might have our designated fall guy.

    edit: Any thoughts on what will happen if they really do wind up admitting that the kidnapping (but not the assassination) was authorized?
    Last edited by Wraith; 10-20-2018 at 01:13 AM.

  23. #23

  24. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by Wraith View Post
    Looks like we might have our designated fall guy.

    edit: Any thoughts on what will happen if they really do wind up admitting that the kidnapping (but not the assassination) was authorized?
    They won't. Anyway, it's not like Trump opposes violence against journalists.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/...american-ones/
    Hope is the denial of reality

  25. #25
    Looks like the Saudis are throwing lower-level officials under the bus.

    Hope is the denial of reality

  26. #26
    Maybe the Trump administration would like to give the Saudis even more time to get their story straight.....

  27. #27
    Most of you have probably already read about this, but for those who haven't:

    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/20/u...n-twitter.html

    McKinsey basically helped Saudis identify online dissidents, with predictable results.
    “Humanity's greatest advances are not in its discoveries, but in how those discoveries are applied to reduce inequity.”
    — Bill Gates

  28. #28
    Best take:

    “Humanity's greatest advances are not in its discoveries, but in how those discoveries are applied to reduce inequity.”
    — Bill Gates

  29. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by Aimless View Post
    Best take:

    It's actually absolutely on point. Most people would argue that what KSA has been doing in Yemen is far more immoral than the single slaying of one of their citizens (no matter how cruel). Hell you'd be far pressed to find any conservative who thinks KSA is a 'moral' country. However their shitty beliefs and actions aside, how does this impact us directly? And by bringing to light how it negatively impacts the Republican president and congressional allies it gins up support among the conservative base to hold KSA accountable.

  30. #30
    Official statement
    Interview with foreign minister

    tl;dr: Basically what was expected. It was rogue agents. The fifteen people were only sent to ask him some questions, then a brawl broke out, and they accidentally strangled him to death. Then they attempted to cover it up, much to the horror of the Saudi government. 18 arrests have been made so far.

    Obviously bullshit, but also expected.

    Also, apparently their plan was to use a body double to make it look like he walked out alive. The disguise was basically just Khashoggi's clothes. Everyone was supposed to believe he disappeared from a nearby mosque and not the consulate.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •