US President’s son-in-law and senior counsel, Jared Kushner, helped Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ‘weather the storm’ following the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and advised him on managing the possible diplomatic fallout of the dastardly murder, according to a report in New York Times.
Citing the unnamed Saudi source, NYT reported that Kushner offered the crown prince advice about how to weather the storm, urging him to resolve his conflicts around the region and cut down possibilities of further embarrassment.
The report also alleged that despite White House protocol stipulating that National Security Council staff be present on all phone calls with foreign leaders, Kushner and bin Salman continued to chat informally after Khashoggi's death.
According to the report, Kushner almost emerged as a one-person lobbyist inside the White House for the crown prince.
“As the killing set off a firestorm around the world and American intelligence agencies concluded that Prince Mohammed ordered it, Kushner became the prince’s most important defender inside the White House, people familiar with its internal deliberations say”.
“Kushner’s support for Prince Mohammed in the moment of crisis is a striking demonstration of a singular bond that has helped draw President Trump into an embrace of Saudi Arabia as one of his most important international allies,” said the report.
The NYT report also suggested that Kushner's proximity with Saudi Crown Prince has been instrumental in shaping White House’s strategic policy on the Middle East - from the Yemen war to international terrorism, to the Israel-Palestine conflict.
The White House, however, dismissed the allegations that “Jared has always meticulously followed protocols and guidelines regarding the relationship with [the crown prince] and all of the other foreign officials with whom he interacts.”
Trump has repeatedly reiterated that he will not allow the brutal murder of Khashoggi to jeopardise his country’s strategic alliance with Saudi Arabia. Trump has argued that the kingdom’s strategic importance far outweighs the “horrible crime” perpetrated against Khashoggi.
Trump even tacitly defended the Islamic kingdom from charges that it orchestrated the killing of Khashoggi. “King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman vigorously deny any knowledge of the planning or execution of the murder of Khashoggi. Our intelligence agencies continue to assess all information, but it could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event – maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!”
Trump administration took a lenient position towards Saudi Arabia despite Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) maintaining that the brutal killing of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was carried out under the direct orders of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, contradicting the Saudi government’s claims that he was not involved in the killing.
Khashoggi, a former aide of Saudi royalty who later became a trenchant critic of the the Saudi royal family was killed after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey on 2 October.
After repeated denials, the Saudi government admitted that he was murdered at the consulate in what they claimed was a “rogue operation” they had not authorised.
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