Regime change in Iran is Trump’s real motive for siding with the Saudis

The Guardian | : It would be comforting to think Donald Trump sent his secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, hotfooting it to Saudi Arabia this week to solve the mystery of what happened to the missing journalist, Jamal Khashoggi. It would be nice to believe Trump cared that much about a reporter, and a foreign reporter at that, whose sudden disappearance occurred far from America’s shores.

But this is the same Trump who recently condemned independent journalists as “enemies of the people” – a statement Dean Baquet, editor of the New York Times, warned in August had “sent a message to despots abroad that you can disrespect the press”. Did Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi crown prince, take Trump’s words as a green light?

In any case, altruism is not really Trump’s thing. His real motives in stepping into the middle of the Khashoggi affair, and crudely attempting to shape the investigation, have become steadily clearer. His stance has gradually gravitated towards exculpation of the Saudis. He has moved from threatening to impose “severe punishment”, if it is confirmed the regime murdered Khashoggi, to speculating about “rogue killers” and insisting Saudi leaders be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

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