Radio Sputnik discussed the issue with James Dorsey, a senior fellow at the Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore and a veteran, award-winning foreign correspondent.
James Dorsey: I think that most people have analytically come to this conclusion for quite some time, including many in the CIA. I think what is more important is the fact that the CIA wanted this to be public. That presumably has two reasons; one is institutional: the CIA needs to be seen, to be making an independent judgement, and that has become all the more important, as you have the US Congress that is moving towards sanctioning Saudi Arabia.
Sputnik: Why is the evidence being released drip by drip? Is there some kind of a motive behind this?
James Dorsey: Well, there’s no doubt that there is a motive. The question is: what is the Turkish goal? Is the Turkish goal to basically significantly weaken Saudi Arabia and undermine its credibility, and in doing so strengthen Turkey’s regional position, as well as its negotiating position vis-à-vis Saudi Arabia and possibly the United States? Or does Turkey really want to ultimately unseat the Saudi crown prince?
Sputnik: Of course, we’ve just seen the US midterms propelling the Democrats to a win in the House of Representatives. Do you think we could expect something new now, some kind of a new approach from the US regarding Saudi Arabia?
James Dorsey: I am not sure. Not because I think that it’s going to become better or worse, but because I think that on both sides of the aisle in the US Congress, so in other words, Republicans and Democrats’ anti-Saudi sentiment was building already prior to the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, primarily because of the Yemen war. What the Khashoggi killing has done is really make this sentiment much more widespread within Congress; again across both aisles.
Sputnik: Would it be too premature to say that perhaps, the US and Saudi Arabia are somewhat drifting apart?
James Dorsey: They’ve been drifting apart for some time; I mean, that’s not new. They were drifting apart already under President Obama: the Saudis felt that Obama was not committed to them, was not committed to the Middle East, that he was pivoting towards Asia. The Saudis were extremely upset by the fact that Obama wanted an agreement with Iran that would help Iran return to the international fold. Now, Trump to some degree has redressed that, with his stark policy towards Iran, but on the other hand, Trump has not turned out to be a reliable partner. The granting of waivers to a number of countries with regard to oil purchases from Iran under the Iran sanctions is something that the Saudis are really upset about: not only because they have been asked to step up production to account for reduced Iranian production, but they were never told in advance that the waivers were going to be granted.
The other day, The Washington Post published a report that the CIA had named Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as the person who had allegedly ordered the assassination of the Saudi-born journalist. Riyadh has on more than one occasion, including over this weekend, denied the reports of the royal family’s involvement in the case, with a spokesperson for the Saudi Embassy in Washington DC slamming the newspaper’s report as “false.” "We have and continue to hear various theories without seeing the primary basis for these speculations," spokesperson Fatimah Beshen said.
In separate comments on the issue, Donald Trump stressed that the CIA hadn’t “assessed anything yet” because it was “too early,” and announced that he would receive a full report on Khashoggi’s killing within the next two days – 19 or 20 November. US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said that Washington had not come to a final conclusion on the case, and that media reports were “inaccurate.”
Riyadh referred to the killing of Jamal Khashoggi as a “rogue operation” and detained 21 suspects, having charged 11 of them and demanded the death penalty for five of the accused.
On 15 November, the Saudi Prosecutor General’s Office reported that Khashoggi died in the consulate in Istanbul after being "forcibly restrained, and injected with a large amount of a drug resulting in an overdose that led to his death."
The views expressed in this article are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect Sputnik's position.