It has now emerged the Jamal Khashoggi, who was murdered at the hands of the Saudis, was a Qatari asset, most likely being paid and handled by Maggie Mitchell Salem, an executive at the Qatar Foundation International.
In the days following the disappearance of Khashoggi, the Saudi native was billed as an unflinching proponent of democracy, a Washington Post journalist who – to his own peril – was exposing the terrible human rights abuses by the government of his native country.
While this narrative was being spun by Saudi rivals Turkey and Qatar (which we now know was working behind the scenes in the days after the murder), the Obama-era “echo chamber” was being revved up by them to undermine the stability of the Saudi government itself.
That “echo chamber,” dubbed as such by Obama’s National Security Council Communications Director Ben Rhodes, was famously exploited by Rhodes to support both Obama’s engagement with the Iranians (culminating in the controversial Iran nuclear deal) as well as Obama’s shift towards the Sunni Islamists (including Egypt’s former President Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood) and away from America’s former Sunni allies (most prominently, Saudi Arabia).
“When complete, the successful information operation would depict Khashoggi a heroic martyr to independent journalism and freedom, while Saudi Arabia would be the embodiment of evil and callousness,” writes the Security Studies Group (SSG), an Australian think tank, which adds, “It is clear now that, not only was Khashoggi transmogrified in death into a major front in Qatar’s war on its Gulf neighbors; in life, he was Qatar’s asset in that war, as well.”
As SSG notes, “American elites and policymakers have been soft targets for Qatari influence and information operations. Information operations use media and traditional tools of public relations to advance policy interests through narratives.”
Nowhere was this more apparent than in the narrative put forth by the mainstream media shortly after Khashoggi’s death. As details began to emerge about the Khashoggi’s connection to the Muslim Brotherhood and Osama bin Laden (which we now know were important in his work on behalf of Qatar, one of the world’s largest sponsors of the Brotherhood), the media downplayed these facts as conservative conspiracy theories.
“No outlet did more in the service of cementing that symbolism than the Washington Post and its news and editorial staff,” writes SSG. “Since October, that outlet has functioned unofficially as the most relentless and influential anti-Saudi lobbying shop in the nation’s capital. Indeed, the successful campaign of hagiography spearheaded by The Post prompted Time Magazine to name Khashoggi and other members of the media ‘Person of the Year.’”
Now, as details are emerging about Khashoggi being a Qatari “agent of influence,” even The Washington Post realized they were vulnerable.
In a piece most certainly written for damage control, WaPo revealed, “Text messages between Khashoggi and an executive at Qatar Foundation International show that the executive, Maggie Mitchell Salem, at times shaped the columns he submitted to The Washington Post, proposing topics, drafting material and prodding him to take a harder line against the Saudi government.”
WaPo also wrote about Khashoggi’s Brotherhood friends in the U.S., including CAIR (the Council on American-Islamic-Relations) and his ties with senior officials in the Turkish government. They mentioned the rumors that documents from wire transfers from Qatar were found at his homes in Turkey and in Virginia.
Yet, even though the WaPo article downplayed these “details,” the article “is crucial because the campaign to lionize Khashoggi and to destroy the US-Saudi relationship was built on the fiction that the Saudis had killed a mere journalist,” notes SSG.
Although the brutality of his death at the hands of the Saudis is something to make the entire free world shudder, it shouldbe noted that the Saudi’s viewed Khashoggi essentially as a foreign agent threatening the very existence of the current regime.
Indeed, as seen by the chorus of screeching voices from the political Left who tried to use the murder to break up U.S.-Saudi relations, end U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia, depose Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman as successor to the kingdom’s throne and force the Saudis to surrender to Iran in Yemen, that assessment was quite on the mark.
“This, of course, was the Qatari policy aim and the conclusion of a successful information operation,” write SSG.
To close, let us not forget Turkey in this equation, who skillfully used the events in this story to further position itself as the natural heir to the Sunni Islamic world, poised to take over from Saudi Arabia.
The Turkey-Qatar-Iranian machine was well-oiled for this maneuver. Counting on the largesse of the anti-Trump American media which didn’t disappoint, it was executed in near-perfect form.