Donald Trump, the president most often called unlike any other occupant of the White House in history, is a lot alike other recent occupants of the job.
He will support Saudi Arabia, no matter what.
In 2001, when Saudis played a key role in hijacking airliners and crashing them into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in the horrors of 9/11, George W. Bush looked the other way and even used the terrorist attack as an excuse to invade Iraq, which had nothing to do with that fateful day on Sept. 11, 2011.
The “Kingdom” as Saudi Arabia is called, is an absolute monarchy run by violence-prone oil billionaires who spread terror and fear within their own country’s residents and around the world.
Over the weekend, the Central Intelligence Agency provided Donald Trump with conclusive proof that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom’s de facto leader, order the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in a gruesome, dismembering action in the Saudi Embassy in Turkey.
Trump dismisses the evidence from the CIA.
“Will anybody really know?” Trump told Fox News Sunday. “All right, will anybody really know?”
Trump refused to listen to the recording of Khashoggi’s death, saying he had no reason to hear what he calls “a suffering tape, it’s a terrible tape.”
Trump, who puts his business interests first, above all else, doesn’t want to take any action against a Crown Prince who is also a major partner in hotels and other lavish real estate investments in the Middle East.
The president joins Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and a long line of American presidents who depend on oil from the kingdom and the money and power of its monarchy.
Writes Mark Lanlner of The New York Times:
For Mr. Trump, it is enough that Prince Mohammed denied any involvement in the killing in phone calls with him.
The president’s defense of the prince is reminiscent of how he deflects questions about Russia’s interference in the 2016 election by saying that President Vladimir V. Putin always denies it when he asks.
“He’s showing that they’re desperate,” said Bruce O. Riedel, an expert on Saudi Arabia who is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. “They’re now staring at the fact that they’re not going to be able to deny Mohammed bin Salman’s culpability.”
Even Trump’s normally compliant Republicans know the evidence against the Prince is overwhelming.
“Everything points to the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, McS, ordering @washingtonpost journalist Jamal #Khashoggi’s killing,” tweeted Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-TN).
Responds Trump: “We do have an ally and I want to stick with an ally that in many ways has been very good.”
Being “very good” includes Saudi Arabia’s pledge to buy $110 billion worth of American weapons but all that is, at the moment, just a pledge. The Saudis have not concluded any deals involving arms since Trump became president.
Israel, which also has financial and strategic ties to Saudi Arabia, has not joined Trump in defending the Crown Prince.
And Saudi expert Riedel says the underlying problem is simple.
“Mohammed bin Salman is a destabilizing force in the region,” he says.
Even worse, evidence shows bin Salman is a cold-blooded murderer.
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