Oct 19, 2018

Khashoggi's warning on Mohammad bin Salman: "Shoot first, aim later"

Khashoggi in 2014. Photo: Mohammed Al-Shaikh/AFP/Getty Images

Eight months before he disappeared after entering a Saudi consulate in Istanbul, journalist Jamal Khashoggi described Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) as an ultra-ambitious ruler with a tendency to "shoot first, aim later."

Why it matters: Khashoggi relocated to the U.S. because his criticism of MBS had made life too dangerous in his native Saudi Arabia. Now, U.S. intelligence reportedly believes MBS is responsible for his death. An Altamar podcast interview reveals him to be conflicted about the 33-year-old prince, whom he compared to England’s Henry VIII. "I like some of the things he’s doing," Khashoggi said, "but I feel that he is doing it the wrong way."

Key quotes
  • "Saudi Arabia needed someone like Mohammed bin Salman. It was going through stagnation, it was moving slowly, we need to realize how difficult the world is becoming around it. So somebody had to come and seize the moment."
  • "I think he wants to see himself as the second founder of Saudi Arabia, inheriting the legacy not of his father but rather of his grandfather who founded the kingdom 100 years ago. … As a Saudi citizen, I would really like to see him as a reformist, as somebody who will provide jobs for young Saudis and turn the Saudi economy into a true economy. But also he is seen as repressive, so it is quite confusing. I have mixed feelings about him."
  • "Sometimes I feel his style is shoot first, aim later. He needs proper advisers around him to lead Saudi Arabia into the future. But he does believe in himself, it’s obvious, he very much believes in himself."

The bottom line: "If I was a historian I would see Mohammed bin Salman as somebody who is putting Saudi Arabia on a fast-forward mood. Many of the things he is doing, probably he doesn’t foresee how the country will be in ten years time. It is similar to what Henry VIII did when he separated the Church of England from Rome. Maybe he did that only to get divorced, but he changed the discourse and the history of England forever."

Go deeper: Listen to the full interview.

Go deeper

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

More than 62,300 U.S. health care workers have tested positive for the novel coronavirus and at least 291 have died from the virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Tuesday. COVID-19 had infected about 9,300 health professionals when the CDC gave its last update on April 17.

By the numbers: More than 98,900 people have died from COVID-19 and over 1.6 million have tested positive in the U.S. Over 384,900 Americans have recovered and more than 14.9 million tests have been conducted.

Coronavirus dashboard

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  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 11:00 p.m. ET: 5,589,626 — Total deaths: 350,453 — Total recoveries — 2,286,956Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 11:00 p.m. ET: 1,680,913 — Total deaths: 98,913 — Total recoveries: 384,902 — Total tested: 14,907,041Map.
  3. Federal response: DOJ investigates meatpacking industry over soaring beef pricesMike Pence's press secretary returns to work.
  4. Congress: House Republicans to sue Nancy Pelosi in effort to block proxy voting.
  5. Business: How the new workplace could leave parents behind.
  6. Tech: Twitter fact-checks Trump's tweets about mail-in voting for first timeGoogle to open offices July 6 for 10% of workers.
  7. Public health: Coronavirus antibodies could give "short-term immunity," CDC says, but more data is neededCDC releases guidance on when you can be around others after contracting the virus.
  8. What should I do? When you can be around others after contracting the coronavirus — Traveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
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Updated 35 mins ago - Politics & Policy

World coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

There are no COVID-19 patients in hospital in New Zealand, which reported just 21 active cases after days of zero new infections. A top NZ health official said Tuesday he's "confident we have broken the chain of domestic transmission."

By the numbers: Almost 5.5 million people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus as of Tuesday, and more than 2.2 million have recovered. The U.S. has reported the most cases in the world (over 1.6 million from 14.9 million tests).