RNA - European governments are also reacting cautiously. London says it's considering its "next steps." Prime Minister Theresa May has long been under pressure to suspend its own arms sales to the regime over the illegal war on Yemen.
Turkey - where Khashoggi was killed, says it won't permit a cover up and its ruling party also questioned the Saudi version of events. Others aren’t letting go of this too.
This is because Saudi Arabia’s belated, incomplete and highly silly explanation for the death of Khashoggi is barely credible, and has been dismissed by the world community, the critics of the Saudi regime and by the journalist’s friends and supporters as an ugly fabrication or, at the very least, a gross distortion of the facts. Even the UN seeks some answers.
But for some Western governments, first and foremost the US, the statement in the early hours of Saturday from Riyadh claiming that Khashoggi was unintentionally killed in a “fist fight” offers a possible way out of a diplomatic crisis that has threatened to disrupt, or even destroy, a political, security and financial relationship they regard as vital to their national interests and arms business.
This is while there are still some hard questions that Riyadh has been unable to answer:
Why did Bin Salman and his officials wait for almost two weeks before admitting Khashoggi was dead, if his killing was not deliberate? Why all those staunch denials of involvement and the repeated, on-the-record assertions that Khashoggi had left the consulate unscathed, if they knew all along that he had died?
Why has Khashoggi’s body disappeared? If his death was an unintended accident, why was an ambulance not called and the police informed? The Saudi statements offer no clue as to where Khashoggi’s remains may be now. Turkish assertions that he was dismembered, smuggled out of the building in suitcases and buried in a forest near Istanbul are now more widely accepted.
It is hard to believe, too, that the two senior officials, close advisers to Bin Salman, who have been sacked for supposedly conducting, or mishandling, a ‘rogue’ operation or a botched interrogation, took any significant decisions without the crown prince’s prior knowledge. That’s not how things work in Riyadh.
Not is that all. If this was just a ‘discussion’, why did at least 15 men travel to Istanbul for the meeting at the consulate? Why did this Saudi group include a forensic expert and members of security forces? Why did they bring a bone saw with themselves? Why did the team leader make 12 calls to the special secretary of Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman in the one hour when Khashoggi was killed? Last but not the least, how could the crown prince not have known all this, specially when seven of the 15 men involved were either his body guards or top advisors?
However you look at it, the Saudi account makes no suggestion that the crown prince knew about what happened to Khashoggi. Indeed, he has been tapped by his father, King Salman, to lead a commission that is designed to review and “modernize” the kingdom’s intelligence operations after the death of the journalist!!!
According to Fars News Agancy, the 33-year-old Mohammed is widely considered the real power in Saudi Arabia, however, and he has had to know something about this whole mess.
As is, the world community wants justice for Khashoggi and wants his murderers to be punished.
The world wants some answers and this brutal episode in Saudi politics is far from over. Things have just started for the MbS.