Saudi Arabia, NBS, Jamal discussed on Press Play with Madeleine Brand


Drive and they wanted movies in the kingdom and popular music and they wanted to Open it up for more business as you say, privatized the national oil company. So initially he was received with open arms in the West. I knew he had a famously cold meeting with President Obama, but After that, this charm offensive. Did it convince people that here was a guy that who was open to becoming a more democratic society? I would call a democratic. I mean, he basically never spoke about political reform. He never sort of implied that Saudi citizens would have a say in how the country was ruled, or that there would be any kind of democracy. But he wanted there to be a social opening, and he wanted there to be economic reform. These were basically the two Main planks of his platform, and he really wanted the world to be involved in there. So the trip that you're talking about was in the spring of 2018. And this it was a remarkable trip. He went to five states plus the District of Columbia, He met three former presidents. He had a meeting with Trump in the Oval Office. He had coffee at Starbucks in Manhattan with Mike Bloomberg. He flew to Seattle saw Bill Gates went to Silicon Valley. Mark Zuckerberg, Google. Then he went to Hollywood and he met. You know, it was just sort of this remarkable, remarkable trip the number of people that he met and at that point Plenty of people were interested in him and and you know, we didn't see a lot of new deal sign, and we didn't see a lot of new businesses, saying Yes, we're going to put money into Saudi Arabia. But there was this curiosity and there was an enthusiasm about what he wanted to do. And a lot of people that really felt like, Wow, if this guy serious and he really does want to make these changes, maybe we want to be a part of that right. But then came Jamal Kashiwagi. Which seemed to put an end to that. There had been along the way a number of things that I think should have been some cause for concern. I mean, long before the murder of Jemaah Shoji, which was near the end of 2018. You had the Yemen War which you know the Saudis intervened in in 2015. You know, in 2017 you had this sort of bizarre detention and force resignation of sod Heidt, the prime minister of Lebanon, And then you had this bizarre event of these hundreds of business people in princes who were locked in the Ritz Carlton accused of corruption, and he basically tried to take their money away. So for those of us in the region who were paying attention, we sort of saw The reforms he was talking about, and we saw these things that were getting people in the West excited, but we also saw these things happening inside Saudi Arabia that Really sort of raised a lot of questions about his judgment and about just kind of his rash way of doing things. And then you know, just becomes clear The longer that we watch him that, okay, We're gonna have societal reform. We're going to have social opening. This is gonna happen at the same time is this authoritarians crackdown that is really gonna put all of the power in Saudi Arabia into his hands. And so is that what he saw in Joe Malka show Gaea a direct threat to his power. So Jamal Khashoggi, you know for those of us who had been in their world for a long time and studied Saudi Arabia. Jamal told you for the vast majority of his career was part of the Saudi establishment. This was a guy who traveled with kings traveled with princes. When I started covering Saudi Arabia in 2013 he was the guy that we would call whenever anything happened in Saudi Arabia because he could tell you what it meant. You would call him up and he'd say, Oh, well, I think the king is thinking this and I think that the government is worried about this and He was a huge asset. I think both for the Saudis and for people like me who were trying to figure out what was going there because he served its this kind of bridge between the two When NBS begins his rise. He actually considers Jamal originally a potential ally. He invites him to a reception and they have, you know, they sort of speak about these things. And I think he expects that Jamal is going to go off and write positively about all of this on But once kind of the authoritarians side of NBS rise kicks in. Jamal becomes very critical of it. He starts writing against it. The first falling out that they have is actually around President Trump When, when Donald Trump won the election, the Saudis were quite shocked by it, and NBS and the Royal Court basically decided we need to court this guy. It's very important for us to have A good relationship with him, and Jamal was very worried. And he wrote about it. He wrote a quite famous column at the time saying, You know, we don't need to be scared of Trump, but we need to prepare for him. He received a call from the royal court telling him you need to shut up. We're going to cut you off. You're not allowed on social media. You're not allowed to appear on TV. You're not allowed to publish articles. And so it was not long after that, that Jamal packed his bags left the kingdom and move to Washington, D C area. Where he soon started writing for the Washington Post. Right and then the story of his unspeakably brutal murder and dismemberment inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. You have strong opinions that this was in fact orchestrated by NBS. I I don't see any reason to think that he didn't know about it. You know, there was a CIA assessment that was basically leaked to the media. That I think is about right. I mean, they basically say there's no smoking gun. As far as I know nobody. No intelligence service has a recording or has definitive proof of NBS ordering his guys go get this guy for May. I don't think anybody has that. So in a court of law, it would be difficult to convict NBS of ordering the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. But over the course of his rise we saw An escalating campaign against dissidents that sort of started with the arrests at home. Then we started seeing different kinds of hacking attempts. There were a number of people who are literally kidnapped abroad and dragged back to Saudi Arabia to be put under sort of either house arrest or thrown in jail. So this is kind of accelerating in the background and And I just think it doesn't make a lot of sense of, you know, Saudi society. This is a very top down kind of place. Everybody looks to the person above them. It's not a place where people take a lot of personal initiative. NBS is definitely not known for delegating his powers. And so I think a lot of people, including myself, just find it hard to believe that such a complicated operation could have happened without at least a nod from him. I mean, we had 15 agents. Fly from Saudi Arabia to Istanbul on private jets that were owned by the government. They stayed in hotels. They worked in the consulate beforehand. They brought along a bone saw in order to you know which they ended up using to dismember him. They brought along a guy who looked like a mafia choked who could then go wander around Istanbul is a body double to try to confuse the surveillance cameras. I mean, this was not a last minute operation that they threw together. This was quite extensive and I think it's just quite hard to believe that somebody would have been ableto pull together. Those kinds of resource is for an operation like this without the Crown Prince at least having some idea what was going on. Right. Then he was worried himself Jamal Kashiwagi about going back to Saturday. But he wouldn't because he was afraid for his personal safety, right? Yeah. Once he moved to Washington, D. C are so he was living in Tysons Corner in Virginia. He basically realized that it would be dangerous for him to go back. I mean, he was still in touch with a number of Saudis. He still visited the Saudi Embassy in Washington. A number of times he even met with the ambassador, at least once, who happens to be a younger brother of NBS, and so he didn't believe that he was under threat that.

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