The fate of Jamal Khashoggi (in the photo) is now beyond doubt, even if the terrible details are yet to emerge completely.
At least the fate of Jamal Khashoggi is now beyond doubt, even if the terrible details are yet to emerge in full. Saudi Arabia has finally confirmed that the missing journalist was murdered at his consulate in Istanbul and alleged, unlikely, that he died in a fist fight that somehow went wrong.
How unfortunate for Mr. Khashoggi, a dissident and thorny writer on the regime side, that he should fight with 15 trained thugs, including bodyguards of the ruling Saudi elite and a forensic expert armed with a bone saw.
In contrast, the dreadful account of his death leaked by the Turkish authorities seems overwhelmingly probable: that the 59-year-old man, who will soon be married, was lured to the consulate, where he was dismembered alive and beheaded by a "tiger team". country especially for the purpose.
Undoubtedly, in the coming days we will receive more distressing news from the Turks: that, for example, the newly painted walls in the consulate show traces of Mr. Khashoggi's blood.
An important search in the forest near Istanbul could reveal parts of his body. Why else would a Saudi consular vehicle go in that direction, tearing off and discarding its satellite tracking equipment on the way?
However, none of this can explain the reckless brutality of a murder that, as said John Sawers, the former MI6 chief, was clearly ordered from the top by the Crown Prince and de facto leader of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed Bin Salman.
The diplomatic and reputation consequences have been enormously detrimental to the Kingdom.
The first explanation is that Mr. Khashoggi was seen as a particular threat. Not only was he an exceptionally well-informed expert, a member of the Riyadh establishment, he had been an adviser to the Saudi security services, but he also openly criticized the current regime through his usual column in the Washington Post.
Significantly, Mr. Khashoggi was the patron of a new online platform called Bee Army, a system of encrypted messages for dissidents both inside and outside the Kingdom, with a particular space for the Saudis to post their complaints about corruption.
It was the Bee Army that was probably fatal.
Arab Saudis are the largest Internet users in the Middle East, but the government has nothing like China's Great Firewall to filter undesirable influences. Use more draconian means.
More worrisome, however, is mounting evidence that the 33-year-old Crown Prince, who introduces himself as a reformer, is fast becoming an irrational and unstable despot to rival the late Saddam Hussein.
The worried Kuwaitis already call him "little Saddam", for fear that he too has plans to invade his vulnerable emirate.
The crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammad bin Salman, on his way to meet PM Theresa May at 10 Downing Street on the first day of his three-day visit to the United Kingdom in March of this year
As early as December 2015, the BND, the German equivalent of MI6, took the unusual step of publishing a report on the generational change in the Saudi leadership. He warned that power was being concentrated in the hands of bin Salman, then the defense minister and deputy Prince Prince. He also predicted that he would try to succeed his father as king, and that he would use that platform to become a leader of the Arab world in the style of Saddam.
As a result, the Saudis, who have often been seen as a valuable pro-Western ally, would abandon the caution of the past in favor of a destabilizing regional role. Worse still, the BND feared it was a player who would use military power to get away with it.
This was a strange statement to be launched by an intelligence service, particularly given the strong commercial relationship between the two countries (Germany, like Britain, sells arms to Saudi Arabia). Unless, that is, the agency had access to clear and worrying evidence.
A member of another Gulf ruling house told me that the BND took over Bin Salman's medical history after he was treated for epilepsy in Germany when he was a teenager, including the psychiatric records that have caused so much concern for his mental state.
The BND was right about bin Salman's ambitions. With his father, King Salman, 82 years old, suffering from Alzheimer's disease, Bin Salman assumed the title of crown prince last year.
Now, apparently, the Germans are right about their stability. Under bin Salman, the ongoing war of the Saudis in Yemen has been carried out without taking into account the 10,000 civilian casualties or the risk of 11 million people dying of hunger.
In November last year, he arrested Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who is a double Saudi citizen, in Riyadh to force him to resign in revenge for not containing the growing influence of Hezbollah, backed by Iran.
The same month, Bin Salman organized the famous "sheikh" at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Riyadh. Around 150 members of Saudi Arabia's political and business elite were invited to a major international investor conference at the palatial hotel, then held there by armed guards until they agreed to pay $ 100 billion. Bin Salman says he was owed the country. Several Saudi billionaires were mistreated and in some cases tortured. At least one army general died of a broken neck, while several reformers (former ministers of economy or finance) have disappeared completely.
All of Bin Salman's rivals have been purged, particularly the previous Crown Prince, his cousin Mohammed Bin Nayef, who had strong Western security ties.
Numan Kurtulmus (pictured) of Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party said Istanbul would share its evidence of Khashoggi's murder with the world
Bin Salman has been waiting for Donald Trump to release a potentially catastrophic war against Iran, something Israelis and Saudis want to provoke.
And it has approached to invade Qatar due to its global pretensions, and has decided for an economic blockade.
The Saudis plan to physically separate Qatar from Saudi Arabia by spending $ 700 million on a huge canal, leaving enough space for a toxic waste dump on the border.
The regional alliance of the Gulf Cooperation Council is in ruins, with Bahrain, the Emirates and Saudi Arabia on the one hand, and Kuwait, Oman and Qatar on the other.
All this refers to Mr. Khashoggi, who opposed the isolation of Qatar and challenged the whole notion of the new Crown Prince as a reformer, in particular by questioning the economic basis of his reform program.
Critics of the Saudi regime say it was claimed after the partial privatization of the vast state oil company Saudi Aramco, defended by Bin Salman, was abandoned this summer.
All eyes are on Washington, where President Trump finally seems to accept that Mr. Khashoggi has been murdered. (Their own security services will make interceptions of numerous calls from the assassins in Ankara to Riyadh, which will probably be condemnatory).
The United States does not have to worry about the Saudis raising oil prices because, thanks to the rise of fracking, the United States is the world's largest oil producer. Therefore, we can expect to see the team of killers on the lists of Specially Named Nationals, blocking their assets and banning them from the United States, while applying informal pressure on King Salman to cut off his son's wings.
The crown prince, meanwhile, will try to blame the dishonest subordinates. According to reports, five officials have been dismissed and 18 people have been arrested. An important general named Assiri is lining up as the head of falls, although his sinister personal security chief, Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb, was also photographed in Istanbul at the time of the murder.
Normally there is no problem that Saudi Arabia can not buy. This is different. A consulate has been used to commit murder. At a minimum, the West, including Britain, should expel all Saudi military attachés and spies.
King Salman should know that his son, Mohammed the murderer, is now stained in the eyes of the world and reconsiders the succession to the throne.
As for Great Britain, although our arms sales to Saudi Arabia are enormously profitable, they represent only 1% of our total exports.
We should not flatter the house of Saud.
Our parliamentarians should not be on their payroll, rubbing their hands like a set of Mayfair car dealers.
We must not allow the clients of our armaments to obtain British foreign policy free of charge.