Turkish officials are adamant that Khashoggi was killed, even an audio recording of his murder exists, but Saudi leaders still deny harming the journalist.

Despite the furore surrounding missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Saudi Arabia has followed through with its pledge of providing the United States of America with US$100 million to help stabilise areas in Syria liberated from the Islamic State.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo landed in Riyadh on the same day as the funds arrived in the US to discuss the fate of the missing Saudi journalist with the kingdom’s leaders.

President Trump was over the moon with the Saudi pledge following complaints about how much the United States spends abroad and has tried to get allies to foot more of the bill.

However, according to the New York Times, the timing of the money’s arrival raised eyebrows even among some of the bureaucrats whose programs will benefit from the cash.

“The timing of this is no coincidence,” said an American official involved in Syrian policy. The official confirmed that the money arrived on Tuesday.

In his ruthless pursuit of forging close relations with Saudi Arabia, President Trump has so far remained neutral on the issue of the fate of the Saudi journalist, even tweeting that he had spoken to the crown prince who told him that he did not know where Khashoggi was or knew what happened to him.

The disappearance of Khashoggi has left Saudi Arabia’s image in tatters, and with damning and irrefutable evidence proving that the journalist came to an end inside the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul, the United States seems to turn a blind eye to the facts.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is a key player in many of the Trump administration’s ambitions for the Middle East, so despite the mounting evidence it remains a tricky topic for the United States to wade in on.

Turkish officials are adamant that Khashoggi was killed, even an audio recording of his murder exists, pinpointing specific characters from the Saudi regime. Saudi leaders have denied harming Khashoggi, but have not provided a credible explanation of what happened to him.

President Trump threatened “severe punishment” if it was confirmed that Saudi Arabia killed Khashoggi. But after speaking with King Salman of Saudi Arabia on Monday, he suggested that “rogue killers” could have been responsible and dispatched Pompeo to Riyadh to see the king.

An insider confirms that Saudi Arabia’s plans are to blame the killing on rogue operators who did not act on official orders — a scenario that could allow the monarchy to acknowledge Khashoggi’s death while protecting its leaders from culpability.

An endorsement of that conclusion by the Trump administration could help limit damage to Saudi Arabia’s international reputation, and judging by recent events it seems that’s where this scenario is heading.

Meanwhile, Turkish media are reporting that Meshal Saad M Albostani, a member of the hit squad that murdered Khashoggi, has suddenly died in a “suspicious” car accident in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

The saga continues.

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Author

Omar Hajjar is a journalist based in the UK. An investigative reporter, he has lived in 3 different countries in the Middle East over the past 10 years.

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