Trump’s claim that “rogue killers” might have been responsible for Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s possible murder is likely only half of the story in the sense that this operation probably wasn’t ordered by Riyadh but might have been undertaken at the behest of rogue royals who want to topple the Crown Prince.
Trump just dropped a bombshell when he alleged that missing Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi might have been murdered by “rogue killers”, which suggests that Riyadh didn’t officially order his assassination like many had been led to think after such claims began to spread around the world like wildfire last week. The Mainstream Media narrative was immediately suspicious because it claimed that the image-conscious Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) was so offended by Khashoggi’s critical commentary about him that he ordered his dramatic torture, assassination, and subsequent dismemberment inside his country’s Istanbul consulate in a daring move that would have reversed all of the soft power gains that he painstakingly (and expensively through paid PR) tried to make over the past three and a half years if it was true. Furthermore, Khashoggi was closely connected with the American, Turkish, and Saudi “deep states”, so assassinating him in such a manner was bound to draw global attention.
Now, however, it turns out that maybe MBS wasn’t behind this killing after all, though cynics would immediately retort that this might just be a cover story to distract from the billions of dollars in bribes that the Crown Prince might have secretly paid out to the US and Turkey over the past week in order to sweep this scandal under the rug. That’s probably not what’s happening though, since it’s much more plausible that rogue royals ordered this deliberately sloppy assassination in order to frame MBS and prompt enough international pressure against him that the King would be compelled to remove him as his heir. MBS’ so-called “anti-corruption” sweep nearly one year was in essence a “deep state” coup carried out by the elements of the military-intelligence bureaucracy that are loyal to the Crown Prince and believe that his Vision 2030 series of socio-economic reforms is the only way to save Saudi Arabia from impending collapse in the next decade.
His royalist enemies allied with the Kingdom’s influential Wahhabi clerics and have been conspiring to overthrow him ever since on the basis that he “backstabbed” his own family and is moving “too fast” in dismantling the system of extreme socio-religious restrictions that Riyadh imposed on its citizens after the 1979 Grand Mosque seizure. These political fantasies would have gone nowhere had this cabal not had sympathetic “sleeper cells” within the same military-intelligence faction that swept away most of MBS’ opposition late last year, and this was hinted at as much in late April during an hours-long outbreak of gunfire in the capital that many observers regarded as a failed coup attempt against the Crown Prince. It didn’t help matters any that MBS was missing from public sight until he reappeared at President Putin’s side in Moscow during the World Cup. Since then, there’s been a persistent threat that more “sleeper cells” might emerge, which they seem to have done earlier this month.
Instead of another brazen coup attempt where the conspirators once again rush a government building with guns blazing, this second iteration was meant to be more subtle and long-running, with the ultimate intent being to frame MBS for supposedly ordering Khashoggi’s killing in his country’s Istanbul consulate in order for the supposedly Alzheimer-afflicted King to be manipulated into deposing him as Crown Prince in exchange for relief from any forthcoming sanctions. It can’t be known for sure at this stage, but the Saudi consulate in Istanbul might have been manned by anti-MBS royalists just like some Turkish diplomatic facilities had previously been run by the Gulenists, which would explain why they allowed these “rogue killers” to enter the building. In actuality, however, they would have only been “rogue” in the sense of collaborating with MBS’ royalist enemies and operating without their government’s knowledge, but were probably indeed part of a secret assassination squad.
It’s not “conspiratorial” to exercise caution and wait for all the facts to come in before making a judgement on this matter either, since that’s incidentally the official position of Saudi Arabia’s hated nemesis, Iran. Out of all the governments in the world, one would ordinarily expect Iran to back the allegations that MBS was behind this assassination plot in order to simply undermine the reputation of their main enemy, but it’s instead maintaining an official policy of “prefer[ring] to wait until more details and facts are revealed” because “it is too early to comment”, which stands in stark contrast to what its many sycophants have been up to all weekend on social media after mistakenly thinking that their geopolitical role model wanted them to push the Mainstream Media’s narrative. It might end up being that Tehran has a change of heart and joins in the mudslinging, but right now it’s behaving very responsibly.
This in and of itself suggests that there’s certainly much more to this curious case than initially meets the eye, so much so that Iran actually appears somewhat hesitant to do anything that could advance the West’s policy of pressure against MBS in spite of them regarding him as one of their country’s most serious threats. That speaks to the enormity of the actual conspiracy that might have been attempted with Khashoggi’s likely assassination and dismemberment in Saudi Arabia’s Istanbul consulate by “rogue killers” operating at the behest of rogue royals, the latter of whom might even be allied with Trump’s “deep state” foes for whatever their common cause may be. That could explain why the President thought it wise to introduce the “rogue killer” narrative into the discussion in order to preempt his own enemies from exploiting the current situation to their benefit. Everything might still suddenly change as new information emerges, but right now it looks like MBS is indeed being set up.
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This article was originally published on Eurasia Future.
Andrew Korybko is an American Moscow-based political analyst specializing in the relationship between the US strategy in Afro-Eurasia, China’s One Belt One Road global vision of New Silk Road connectivity, and Hybrid Warfare. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.