MYSTERIES OF A MURDER
Undated, October 23, 2018 -- In the political quagmire of the Middle East where black is
never black and white never white the murder of Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi has turned into another
traumatic chapter of a modern war no longer fought on the ground but from cyberspace by remote control
and with mercenary armies of propagandists, hackers and corporate lackeys.
In our times yesterday’s hero can be converted into today’s villain. Both roles are
dictated, subtly or not, by the paid technocrats who manipulate public opinion through a media
whose principal voices are spoon-fed or purse-fed just like doctors who prescribe certain drugs
in return for paid holidays or other type of kickbacks from pharmaceutical companies.
Our current villain (on a long list of past villains) is the young Saudi Arabian Crown
Prince Mohammed bin Salman, a dashing 33-year old. His meteoric rise to power in oil-rich Saudi
Arabia was quickly hailed as the coming of ‘the Great Reformer.’
In reality Prince Mohammed’s only laudable reform granted Saudi women the right to drive
themselves, a clever move in the era of ‘me Too.’ This rather insignificant law (since many women already
ignored the no-drive ban) turned him into the darling of the mouthpieces of our western media, especially in
the U.S. Only those not mesmerized by the build-up of the Prince mentioned his dark side - like the decision
to use his powerful Airforce to bomb ‘the hell out of Yemen’ killing mainly civilians (allegedly Shiite
opposition forces) and so causing a human tragedy in an already impoverished nation. His Royal Highness
also had the Lebanese Prime Minister arrested in another show of “I can do what I want.’ Then, like all
tyrants, he launched a campaign against dissidents and critics, both at home and abroad, arrested, tortured
and jailed by the hundreds.
Few bothered or barked about these peccadillos. After all Saudi money and purchases
(like 110 billion dollars in US arms sales to the Saudis) were a coveted reward for looking the other
But then, alas, alas, one day this month, the Great Reformer was fingered as the mastermind
behind the murder of the ‘Prince of Dissidents,’ Jamal Khashoggi, 59, the Saudi exile allegedly killed and
his body chopped up in a struggle inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. Khashoggi lived in the U.S. and
was a columnist for the Washington Post. A hit squad of sixteen Saudis had arrived in Istanbul the day
before his murder. Turkish police claim Khashoggi was killed while he tried to obtain a document at the
Consulate which would allow him to marry his Turkish fiancé (who waited in vain outside for his exit). Police
claim his body was then cut into pieces by a forensic expert who had arrived among the sixteen Saudis
and had carried in his luggage a body-saw.
In the not infrequent turn-about by our mainstream media the Reformer Prince was immediately
converted into an ogre. Newspapers like the New York Times suddenly carried an inside story of the horror
of the war Prince Mohammed had unleashed in Yemen, a story that should have been written months ago.
(But then the Prince was still a ‘hero.’)
With this novel finger-pointing against the Great Reformer no one asked why someone could be
so stupid to have a prominent critic exterminated by an imported killer squad acting in one’s own consulate
in an allied country. Surely with all that Saudi oil revenue available any decent assassin could have done the
job more professionally.
The other puzzling question was this: Had the headstrong Prince become the victim of a power play
by a rival Prince or a group of royals upset by his stunning ascend to run the country with unilateral
decision-making? Was he being unjustly fingered as the man who sent the killer squad? This way he could
be discredited in his aspiration to be the next king – once his father died.
Then there is a third more modern gambit: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a close
friend of the murdered man, has economic problems and needs loans to prop up his nation’s currency. The
Saudis, modern bankers and investors, may have offered insufficient financial relief for the Turks to
exonerate the Prince from any wrong-doing in the sordid affair.
Erdogan, a virtual dictator, has promised ‘to tell all’ in a few days-time. This gives either the
Saudi conspirators or the Prince another opportunity to rethink the number of zeroes on the rumoured loan.
Like most affairs in the Middle East all this is shrouded in conjuncture, mystery - and most of all
Clear is the wily way our news-fake-news moguls can glorify or tar-brush another
Middle East leader.
Surely we can still recall the fate of Saddam Hussein, a tyrant like many others, but our hero
when he stood up (with western support of weaponry) to the Iranians for eight years. With a peace deal
done and his usefulness exhausted Saddam suddenly became a rogue after he was lured (with the
promise of no military reaction) to invade Kuwait as the prize for his sacrifices against the Iranians. (that
was even before he was wrongly fingered as the custodian of weapons of mass destruction)
And what about our one-time dear friend, General Mubarak in Egypt. One day he was our
staunchest Arab pillar to maintain the peace with Israel next he was ousted with western tacit support by
‘democratic mobs’ who then became too anti-American - so Washington had to throw its support behind
yet another military strongman.
Remember Muammar Khadafy, a colourful but slightly unhinged man of desert-and-tent fame
who kept tribal Libya under his autocratic control until a western alliance, greedy for his petroleum reserves,
armed rebels and ousted him. Without a strongman, Libya (just like Iraq and Afghanistan) turned into a
tribal and gangland madhouse where every idiot with a gun appears to be dabbling in the slave-trade,
sluicing African immigrants and asylum seekers into Europe, so destabilizing the old continent,
No need to mention Syria, the latest folly of western meddling in Middle East nations, always with
the inevitable result we turn those countries into basket cases of violence, leaving hundreds of thousands
dead and millions to flee their homes and seek refuge elsewhere.
Another telling example of the two-faced way we have dealt with the Middle East is Israeli premier
‘Bibi’ Netanyahu who recently, when facing defeat for his third term as Israeli Prime
Minister, tossed into the election ring what all savvy Israelis (and foreign diplomats) have known for
decades: ‘There will be no Two-State solution (for the Palestinians) on my watch’.
That promise turned ‘Bibi’s’ fortunes.
Netanyahu won the election and immediately promised – for the world at large to hear
no doubt – ‘I am still committed to find a peaceful solution’ another pledge among the scores
made during past decades, gestures that have cost the international community billions of dollars
in fake peace forums and international peace negotiations – all still born even before the first
pretentious speech was made.
Uli Schmetzer was a foreign correspondent for Reuters and the Chicago Tribune in Europe, Asia and the
Middle East. He is the author of six books, available on Amazon.com