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Kushner tells Trump to back Saudi until Khashoggi outrage ends: report

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jared kushner trump mbs saudi arabia
Jared
Kushner has reportedly been advising Donald Trump on how to deal
with Saudi Arabia over the Jamal Khashoggi crisis. Here, Saudi
Crown Prince (then-Defense Minister) Mohammed bin Salman, Trump,
and Kushner in Riyadh in May 2017.

Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

  • Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s Middle East
    adviser, is close to Saudi Arabia’s millennial crown prince,
    Mohammed bin Salman, and reportedly talks to him on
    WhatsApp.
  • He has not taken a public role in the US response to
    Saudi Arabia over the disappearance and likely murder of Saudi
    journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
  • According to the New York Times, Kushner has behind the
    scenes been urging President Donald Trump to stand by Saudi
    Arabia, asserting that it will blow over in time.

Jared Kushner is reportedly urging President Donald Trump to
stand by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman amid the
disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, as Kushner
believes that he will survive global outrage over the crisis.

Khashoggi, who wrote columns for The Washington Post, disappeared
after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2.
Turkish officials have
leaked gruesome details
of what they say is Khashoggi’s
killing to US and Turkish pro-government media over the past two
weeks.

Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and adviser on Middle East
affairs, has argued that bin Salman can weather the storm of
outrage over the Khashoggi crisis,
The New York Times reported on Thursday
. The newspaper cited
a source close to the White House, and a former official with
knowledge of the discussions.

Kushner argued that bin Salman had survived criticism of the Gulf
kingdom in the past, and could do so again, The New York Times
said.


mohammed bin salman
Saudi
officials appear to want to distance Crown Prince Mohammed from
the Khashoggi disappearance likely murder.

Nicolas Asfouri – Pool/Getty Images

The report also suggested that the Saudis could blame Gen.
Ahmed al-Assiri, a top intelligence official with close ties to
the crown prince, for Khashoggi’s disappearance and alleged
murder.

That account squares with other reports that Riyadh plans to
admit that
Khashoggi was murdered by Saudi agents, but will scapegoat a
rogue general
acting beyond his authority.

Read more: One
of the men suspected of killing Jamal Khashoggi reportedly died
in a car crash after returning to Saudi Arabia


jared kushner saudi mbs visit
White
House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Kushner stand behind members
of the Saudi delegation during Crown Prince Mohammed’s visit to
Washington in March.

Kevin
Dietsch-Pool/Getty


Kushner has taken a back seat to US discussions over Khashoggi,
reportedly due to his close relationship with 33-year-old Crown
Prince Mohammed, the de facto ruler of the Gulf kingdom.

Senior White House officials fear that Kushner’s public
involvement would prompt further backlash over the US response to
the Khashoggi crisis,
CNN reported
.

Kushner has communicated with Crown Prince Mohammed over
encrypted messaging service WhatsApp in the past, and provided
readouts of the conversations to Trump’s team after they take
place, CNN added.

Earlier this week a Secret Service agent
physically prevented CBS correspondent Errol Barnett
from
asking Kushner about the Khashoggi investigation.

“I don’t give a damn who you work for,” the agent said, according
to a video Barnett posted of the incident, adding that there was
a “time and place” for such questions.

Trump’s response to the Khashoggi crisis has been lukewarm. The
president, who often touts the billions of dollars worth of
US arms deals with Riyadh, has been wary of implicating the Saudi
leadership in Khashoggi’s disappearance.

On Thursday he made what was perhaps
his most forceful statement yet
on the Khashoggi episode,
telling
The New York Times
: “Unless the miracle of all miracles
happens, I would acknowledge that he’s dead. That’s based on
everything — intelligence coming from every side.”

Previously Trump suggested the “rogue killers,” rather than Saudi
state agents, could be responsible for Khashoggi’s disappearance,
and said criticism against the Saudi kingdom over Khashoggi was
an instance of “guilty until proven innocent.”

He has also repeatedly said he
would not halt arms sales to Riyadh
over the Khashoggi
crisis.


trump saudi arabia
Trump and Crown Prince Mohammed at the White House in
March. Trump has repeatedly touted US arms sales to Saudi
Arabia.

Getty
Images


Saudi Arabia has long weathered negative press reports over its
human-rights record, which have continued after bin Salman was
appointed Crown Prince in June 2017 and effectively handed
control of the Gulf kingdom.

Last November the country’s detained more than 200 members of the
elite,
including 11 princes
, in the
luxurious Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh
for two months as part
of a so-called anti-corruption purge. Bin Salman was widely seen
as the mastermind behind the purge as he consolidated his power
in the kingdom.

Around the same time the kingdom also detained Lebanese
Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri
for about three weeks in Saudi
Arabia, during which Hariri abruptly announced his resignation.
Hariri later returned to Lebanon, after an
intervention from France
, and declared that he had suspended
his resignation.

It also continues to wage a bloody war in Yemen, which has

according to some calculations
caused 50,000 deaths.

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