In a kingdom once ruled by an ever-aging rotation of elderly monarchs, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman stands out as the youthful face of a youthful nation. But behind the carefully calibrated public-relations campaign pushing images of the smiling prince meeting with the world’s top leaders and business executives lurks a darker side.
“I don’t want to waste my time,” Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told Time Magazine in a cover story this year. “I am young.”
President Donald Trump defended continuing huge sales of U.S. weapons to Saudi Arabia on Thursday despite rising pressure from lawmakers to punish the kingdom over the disappearance of a Saudi journalist who lived in the United States and is now feared dead.
“I don’t like stopping massive amounts of money that’s been pouring into our country. They are spending 110 billion on military equipment,” Trump said.
Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi journalist who disappeared last week after a visit to his country’s consulate in Turkey, was once a Saudi insider. A close aide to the kingdom’s former spy chief, he had been a leading voice in the country’s prominent dailies, including the main English newspapers. The U.S.-educated Khashoggi was no stranger to controversy. “As of now, I would say Mohammed bin Salman is acting like Putin. He is imposing very selective justice,” Khashoggi wrote in the Post last year after he fled the kingdom, saying he feared returning home.
“The initial assessment of the Turkish police is that Mr Khashoggi has been killed at the consulate of Saudi Arabia in Istanbul. We believe that the murder was premeditated and the body was subsequently moved out of the consulate,” one of the two Turkish officials told Reuters.
The Turkish sources did not say how they believed the killing was carried out.