Removing bin Salman is something some Saudis fear

He put his teacup down with the deliberation of a man about to choose his words carefully."Look," he ...

Posted: Oct 24, 2018 4:54 PM
Updated: Oct 24, 2018 4:54 PM

He put his teacup down with the deliberation of a man about to choose his words carefully.

"Look," he said. "It's getting increasingly hard to believe our Kingdom's version of events. So many parts of the story don't add up, or they require a leap of faith that no one could be expected to make."

Continents and regions

Jamal Khashoggi

Middle East

Middle East and North Africa

Misc people

Saudi Arabia

He wondered aloud as to why it was "necessary" for a forensic pathologist to accompany a team of security personnel to interrogate Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate on October 2.

The Saudi suggestion, in private briefings to journalists, is that this was to remove clues that could link the team of Saudi operatives that, Saudi Arabia says, was dispatched to temporarily abduct the Washington Post columnist to a safe house before taking him back to Saudi Arabia, or releasing him.

My friend, a leading Saudi political analyst, rolled his eyes.

The Turkish version, laid out in selective leaks to the media, including CNN, is that Khashoggi was murdered and dismembered in the consulate.

My friend wondered why the cameras and hard drive that recorded surveillance video would have been removed from the consulate where Khashoggi was last seen alive, as the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan contends.

And why it was "necessary" to use a body double to fake his safe departure from the building?

Saudi Arabia has committed to a transparent and timely investigation into the death of Khashoggi -- and insisted that the investigation would identify who gave the orders for the operation -- whoever that might be.

There's no suggestion here in the Kingdom that among those being investigated is the Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, who's the real law in the land and controls the intelligence services and is the Minister of Defense. Even if the promise to stop at no one in the investigation leaves that possibility open, technically.

The foreign ministers of the G7 -- Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States of America -- and the High Representative of the European Union issued a statement saying that they "condemn in the strongest possible terms the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, which the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has confirmed took place in its consulate in Istanbul."

Adding: "The confirmation of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi's death is a first step toward full transparency and accountability. However, the explanations offered leave many questions unanswered."

Many Saudis, like my friend, agree.

But they are worried that a weakening of the power of the Crown Prince, for all of his flaws, could open the doors to a return of the religious police and the domination of ultraconservative clerics. In other words: now is bad -- but the past was worse.

"It's terrible to say so in terms of human rights and a belief in free speech, but Mohammed bin Salman has locked up clerics who would otherwise be trying to lock people like me up," said the leading local political analyst.

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince has soiled his own international reputation as a reformer over the past two years in which he has dominated the Saudi scene.

He's locked up women's rights campaigners while ending the ban on female drivers. He's tried to attract investment by detaining hundreds of the super wealthy and releasing them in return for billions in settlement of unspecified economic "crimes."

His men detained the Prime Minister of Lebanon and forced him to announce his resignation on TV until French President Emmanuel Macron intervened and restored Saad al-Hariri to the premiership in Beirut.

To many in the outside world, especially the West, the Crown Prince has thrown his intimidating bulk around too clumsily -- deepening a war in Yemen, joining the US in squaring off against Iran. Now, with the death of Khashoggi, the effects of his erratic rule have had tragic, highly public consequences.

For Saudi liberals, though, questions over the role of the prince in the mysterious death remain troubling -- even shameful. But they fear a future in which he's weakened.

"He got rid of the mutawa (religious police). They controlled every aspect of our lives and the hard-line clerics stifled the country. MBS got rid of them."

Now it is not uncommon to see women who have thrown off the black abaya coats that cover their clothing and sport white and grey silk abaya while leaving their heads uncovered by scarves.

Music has come to the Saudi streets, along with cinemas and circuses (briefly).

"None of this would have been conceivable three years ago," my friend says.

A strong desire to punish Saudi Arabia's most powerful prince for centralizing so much power in his own hands that they appear bloodied by the Khashoggi murder risks returning the country to something that, for liberals here, could be worse.

Many people, liberals and intellectuals known to CNN here, are on holiday abroad and won't answer their phones, or speak freely.

"I can't blame them," said my friend as he sighed and reached for a biscuit.

West Lafayette
Clear
71° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 71°
Kokomo
Clear
67° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 67°
Rensselaer
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 70°
Fowler
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 64°
Williamsport
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 66°
Crawfordsville
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 64°
Frankfort
Overcast
65° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 65°
Delphi
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 68°
Monticello
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 68°
Logansport
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 66°
Very Warm, Then Rainfall Potential, Followed by Much Cooler Weather
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 113337

Reported Deaths: 3530
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion20936761
Lake10334319
Elkhart6438109
St. Joseph6226103
Allen6060200
Hamilton4761109
Vanderburgh349430
Hendricks2681122
Monroe251236
Tippecanoe231213
Johnson2279123
Clark215756
Porter209046
Cass19339
Delaware189561
Vigo178524
Madison161075
LaPorte138239
Floyd132161
Howard129063
Warrick122336
Kosciusko120617
Bartholomew115357
Marshall99424
Dubois95918
Boone95646
Hancock91443
Grant89733
Noble89432
Henry78125
Wayne74714
Jackson7429
Morgan70638
Shelby66629
Daviess65428
Dearborn63928
LaGrange63211
Clinton59513
Harrison56424
Putnam53810
Lawrence50628
Montgomery50521
Knox5039
Gibson4894
White48214
DeKalb46311
Decatur45739
Miami4303
Greene41935
Fayette41813
Jasper3862
Steuben3747
Scott35910
Sullivan33112
Jennings31212
Posey3090
Franklin30325
Clay2985
Orange28624
Ripley2828
Carroll27113
Wabash2628
Washington2611
Whitley2556
Starke2537
Adams2523
Wells2503
Jefferson2443
Fulton2352
Huntington2223
Spencer2223
Tipton22022
Perry21513
Randolph2097
Jay1750
Newton17211
Owen1671
Martin1640
Rush1534
Pike1411
Vermillion1260
Fountain1202
Pulaski1151
Blackford1133
Brown1033
Crawford1030
Parke961
Benton880
Ohio777
Union770
Switzerland690
Warren391
Unassigned0225

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events