Saudis conclude Khashoggi died after a fight broke out in the consulate (Update)

Most sites haven’t updated their stories yet but are reacting on Twitter to news that a Saudi prosecutor has reached the conclusion Jamal Khashoggi is dead:

The big admission here is that Khashoggi died in the consulate as most of us already believed.

CNN is reporting that a Saudi general has been relieved of his duties:

A total of 18 Saudi nationals have now been detained for investigation, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
In the announcement on Saudi State TV, it said a royal order has been issued to release Maj. Gen. Ahmed al-Assiri from his duty as the deputy of the intelligence services.

That’s significant because, also according to CNN, this General is the person who was in charge of the 15-man team who went to the consulate to meet Khashoggi. So it sounds like the Saudis are rounding up the right people.

Does any of this mean MBS will be held responsible for giving the order? Probably not. Reporter Josh Rogin ads that MBS is heading a commission to investigate the death which is very convenient for him. Rogin also links to the Saudi statement:

MBS may be running the investigation but he’s apparently not running the show. Reuters reported today that King Salman has put his right-hand man in charge of the response:

Last Thursday, Oct. 11, the king dispatched his most trusted aide, Prince Khaled al-Faisal, governor of Mecca, to Istanbul to try to defuse the crisis…

Initially the king, who has handed the day-to-day running of Saudi Arabia to his son, commonly known as MbS, was unaware of the extent of the crisis, according to two of the sources with knowledge of the Saudi royal court. That was partly because MbS aides had been directing the king to glowing news about the country on Saudi TV channels, the sources said.

That changed as the crisis grew.

“Even if MbS wanted to keep this away from the king he couldn’t because the story about Khashoggi’s disappearance was on all the Arab and Saudi TV channels watched by the king,” one of the five sources said.

The big picture here is that the Saudis have admitted the bare minimum, i.e. Khashoggi is dead and was killed in the consulate by a group of Saudis. They had little choice given the video evidence. But the idea that Khashoggi started a fist fight with 15 Saudis who accidentally killed him is absurd. Show me the video and I’ll believe it. Otherwise, I think it’s pretty safe to conclude why the Saudis were there in the first place from what happened.

I guess the next obvious step here is to find Khashoggi’s body. It’ll be interesting to see if his hands turn up and, if so, whether they retain any fingers. Maybe they all fell off in the fist fight.

Update: We’ll see if this prediction is accurate but no one is going to believe this 15-man team was freelancing so…they misunderstood their orders. Yeah, that’s the ticket.