The Saudi story regarding the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, in which it claims that he died during a fistfight with a Saudi detective, does not change anything. The man died in his country's consulate, at the hands of an "assassination squad" sent specifically for this purpose – everything else is just details. Saudi Arabia, which has admitted – after two weeks of explicit denial – that the crime was committed inside the consulate, is now struggling to come up with a coherent and convincing story that saves face. However it has failed miserably, with the official story requiring another story just to justify it and cover it up.
The first version of the official Saudi story, told by the Attorney General, is full of so many holes and gaps that no sane person can believe it. This story presents the extent of the dilemma into which Riyadh has fallen, or into which it was pushed as a result of the foolishness of whoever ordered, planned and executed the elimination of Khashoggi in this ugly manner. Nothing proves this dilemma more than the emergence of different versions of this story, such as the story reported by Reuters from what it called a responsible source, which did not happen.
The real story of Khashoggi's death is that Saudi Arabia, represented by the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MBS), as well as those who work for him, decided to silence Khashoggi. They decided to silence every voice different to theirs or opposed to them, either by means of kidnapping, arrest, killing or dismembering. This story's chapter began two and a half years ago, when King Salman bin Abdul Aziz ascended to power. His son MBS was crowned Crown Prince in place of former Crown Prince Muhammad bin Nayef. This was when the most prominent and electrifying chapter of the story in the history of the Kingdom, since its third inception in the early years of last century, began.
The second chapter of the story began with MBS's de facto leadership, after his coup against bin Nayef and promoting himself to Crown Prince in the middle of last year. This chapter is full of plotting and intrigue, co-written by US President Donald Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner, who both openly said they had "brought their man to power" in Saudi Arabia in preparation for using him to achieve their interests in the region. With the unlimited support of his allies and indirect accomplices in the crime – Israel and the United Arab Emirates – the third chapter of what is really happening in Saudi Arabia began with MBS's foreign promotion as the "saviour" of the kingdom of religious insanity, social backwardness and economic closure. It is a promotion using all legitimate and illegitimate means of buying souls and intimidating anyone who disagrees with him, making MBS seem like the "Mahdi" the West was looking for in order to restructure the kingdom.
The real Saudi story reached a dramatic climax when absurd decisions and policies were made by Mohammad Bin Salman, including the arrest of hundreds of clerics, activists, economic analysts and human rights activists. The drama continued with the decision to besiege Qatar and sever ties with the Gulf state about a year and a half ago, detaining Lebanese Prime Minister, Saad Hariri and boycotting Canada for a statement it made criticising Saudi Arabia's infamous human rights record. Saudi Arabia treated Saudi students in Canada like livestock that can be ordered and would obey without question. MBS also made reckless economic decisions, adopted Israel's discourse regarding the Palestinian cause and blamed the Palestinians for not reaching a settlement for the conflict. The story reached its climax with the Khashoggi assassination, the most suspenseful and thrilling chapter in the true story of what is happening in Saudi Arabia.
The chapters of this story are now being written by a group of teenagers who took over the authority in Saudi Arabia since the departure of King Abdullah, including politicians, journalists, media personalities, writers and intellectuals. They are all involved and implicated in varying degrees, in the assassination of Khashoggi and in all Saudi Arabia's crimes committed in the past two and a half years. They have turned Saudi Arabia into a laboratory to test out their ideas and a platform to liquidate their opponents locally, regionally and internationally. Such individuals include Ahmad Asiri, Saud Al-Qahtani and those who work under their command, as well as the false media reports in the satellite channels, newspapers, magazines and research centres working for MBS, who are known by name and job. This also includes the cyber army, which was exposed by The New York Times two days ago.
So, whoever wants to know the real Saudi story should start reading from its first chapters, not from its dramatic and depressing chapter – the Khashoggi chapter.
This article first appeared in Arabic in Al-Araby Al-Jadeed on 22 October 2018.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.