Can Jared Get It Done?

Olivier Douliery/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

As noted below, Sarah Sanders says Jared Kushner (along with John Bolton) called Saudi Crown Prince and de factor ruler Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) to ask for information about the whereabouts of exiled and now presumed dead Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. A lot of circumstantial evidence points to MBS as the one who ordered the killing, if that’s what happened. Logic too. There’s always the possibility of rogue elements in Saudi security services. But something so audacious would almost certainly have to come from the top. So it’s worth reviewing the relationship between these two men, Kushner and MBS. 

Kushner and the Crown Prince have developed a close relationship over the last two years, largely based on what US diplomats consider an untethered freelancing. David Ignatius reported that on an unannounced trip last year Kushner and MBS “are said to have stayed up until nearly 4 a.m. several nights, swapping stories and planning strategy.” He also noted this: “MBS is emboldened by strong support from President Trump and his inner circle, who see him as a kindred disrupter of the status quo — at once a wealthy tycoon and a populist insurgent.”

MBS seemed to see the close relationship through a different prism, reportedly telling friends and associates that he has the callow Kushner “in his pocket.”

We’ve already had a couple times when MBS made dramatically and arguably reckless moves, at least in part relying on a carte blanche from President Trump and the princeling Kushner. The blockade of Qatar, which Kushner seems to have encouraged, is one case. If the incident in Istanbul is another it’s a dramatic escalation.

Whether the Trump/Kushners had foreknowledge, simply encouraged recklessness or are generally compromised trying to handle the unfolding crisis, this relationship bears much closer scrutiny than it has received to date.

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