Fallout from killing has weakened Prince Mohammed and given second wind to old guard of elders
Martin Chulov Middle East correspondent
Mon 12 Nov 2018
Turkey alleges Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman directly ordered Khashoggi’s assassination.
six weeks after Jamal Khashoggi was murdered by Saudi agents, the decision-making process in Riyadh is slowly starting to change. Fallout from the assassination in Istanbul has wounded Mohammed bin Salman, the heir to the throne, and given a second wind to an old guard of elders, whose views are once more being heard.
Publicly, the Kingdom’s leaders appear chastened and contrite in the wake of Khashoggi’s gruesome killing inside the Saudi consulate. In private though, senior members of the House of Saud, including the crown prince, are partly blaming Turkey for the global revulsion, which they say could have been contained if Ankara had played by “regional rules”.
Central to the resentment, according to sources close to the royal court in Riyadh, is a view that the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan betrayed the Kingdom by disclosing details of the investigation and refusing all overtures from Saudi envoys, including an offer to pay “significant” compensation.
“They say they were betrayed by the Turks,” a regional source said. “That’s where they are in their most private thoughts.”
The extraordinary ramifications of Khashoggi’s death continue to reverberate through the halls of power in Riyadh, where some decisions are now being made away from the ubiquitous crown prince, who Turkey alleges directly ordered the assassination, and has since tried to deflect blame to fall guys, including his most prominent domestic aide. Ankara has been aiming to isolate Prince Mohammed through weeks of pointed rhetoric that has appealed to the Saudi King to rein in his son, and restore more conventional ways of doing business.
The return to Riyadh earlier this month of Ahmed bin Abdulaziz, the sole surviving full brother of monarch, King Salman, has been widely interpreted as a first step in the restoration of an old order, in which decision making was made after extensive consultation among elders. Another senior figure, Khalid al-Faisal, led the Saudi delegation to meet Erdoğan in October, and the King himself – who has taken more of a chairman role since appointing Prince Mohammed as his heir – has been more visible and vocal in meetings, a second senior source says.