The Khashoggi incident (viewer discretion advised)

Jamal Khashoggi, Saudi journalist and WaPo columnist, has ‘been disappeared’. No one, except for the Saudis, knows where he is. It’s a mystery. Then again, maybe not so much. At about 1:15 PM local time on October 2, he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to obtain divorce papers so he could remarry, and was never to be seen again. The event chart is below (bigger). His distraught fiancé waited outside the consulate until midnight hoping for his return before notifying Turkish authorities that he had disappeared. Turkish authorities claim Khashoggi had been murdered, claiming further they have a video of his murder. Apparently, he had on an Apple watch, which was linked to his phone in the hands of his fiancé outside, and the murder was recorded on the phone. Dick Tracy would be proud, if so. A few grains of salt might be in order for the latter. More likely was that the consulate was bugged. Either his dismembered body was spirited away in diplomatic baggage, buried in consular grounds elsewhere, or the still-alive Khashoggi was loaded into a mysterious black van and flown out to Saudi Arabia, to await, well, we can only guess. The details emerging from Turkish authorities are too gruesome to mention. The whole incident reads like a scene from The Sopranos. The Turks are outraged and have vowed a thorough investigation, but have fallen short of accusing the Saudis.

Khashoggi was/is well-respected in the American mainstream press, having had inside information and insight into the Saudi Kingdom for a number of years by having been based there. For that reason he probably had reason to leave Saudi Arabia. However, he was also a duplicitous and shadowy figure, an advocate for the Muslim Brotherhood, for the Palestinian cause and a reactionary voice in his Arabic writings. He had fled Saudi Arabia in 2017 fearing for his safety after the accession of Mohammed bin Salman (MbS), the Saudi crown prince and heir to the throne. The Kingdom became quite repressive under the rule of MbS. He had been writing articles for Western audiences critical – mildly so to our senses – of Saudi policy, which had won him the ire of MbS and the Saudi elites. On the morning of the day of his disappearance a team of 15 Saudis arrived via two private jets at Istanbul International Airport and left the same day after Khashoggi went missing. Interesting.

He had been lured to the consulate, having been there on the 28th of September, being told to return for his papers on the 2nd – plenty of notice to arrange for the little day trip of the Saudis. Conspiracy? Maybe. The chart of the event should give some insight. But, if he was murdered, it was a blunder on the part of the Saudis, or perhaps was meant to send a clear message to their enemies. It has sent tremors through the Middle East, especially among Saudi expats, and among American mainstream journalists. Perhaps the latter was the point. We’ll look at all that and the larger implications after examining the chart of the event.

Pluto is always implicated in subterfuge, and in the event chart we find Pluto square the meridian axis from the 1st house, the latter indicating the intent of the event. Pluto is also at the midpoint of the ‘death axis’ (the Mars/Saturn midpoint) of the event, a significator of brutality and murder. Of interest here, too, is that the horizon axis of the Saudi sunset chart is the same, sign-wise, as the event chart. The Sun/Moon midpoint axis ties with the Saturn/Pluto axis, which points to separations (Sun) and ‘the tragic destiny of a woman’ (Moon).[1] The reading is very similar if read the other way (Saturn/Pluto to Sun/Moon). In addition, the Sun and Moon both co-rule the 8th house of death, among other things.

The event was planned beforehand, and the subterfuge is further supported by the Mercury/Pluto square, with Mercury at the Midheaven (MC), and ruling the 6th (security forces), 7th (conflicts, open enemies and legal matters) and 9th (foreign forces) houses. Mercury is also within 2 degrees of the Mars/Saturn axis, which at the least can bring bad news, and the worst, thoughts of death and bereavement. The special forces aspect in the chart is supported by the trine between the Sun and Mars, which while showing energy, also points to a successful operation. The fifteen Saudis have been identified, and over half of them are Saudi royal military. At least three were bodyguards to MbS, which means that he apparently ordered the operation. As usual, there is more we could say, but all of these factors point to the likelihood that Jamal Khashoggi met his death on 2 Oct 2018. At the very least, it shows a violent abduction, which Pluto also rules.

As a point of note, there have been quite a number of assassinations lately in many parts of the world. These have been pronounced since Mars approached its station and completed the mundane death axis in May. Most of those have been in the Idlib province where the jihadist leaders from different factions are busy knocking each other off, hundreds as of now. We also saw the assassination of Zakharchenko in the Donbass region in August. Mars/Saturn and Saturn/Pluto midpoints are the two that are most associated with murder, and when you find a midpoint structure composed of the three, then the possibility of violent undoing is certainly there if other indicators support it, as we see in this case.

The question naturally arises, then – was there an indicator of such a death in Khashoggi’s chart? It is difficult to say for certain, as we have no time of birth for him. Thus we do not know the angles, houses or even the degree of the Moon. His chart with transits and directions is below (bigger). A few things do stand out. Neptune was transiting within a few degrees of the Mars/Saturn axis, possibly indicating a mysterious death. Natally, the Sun was at the midpoints of Mars/Pluto and Saturn/Uranus, and Pluto was transiting square his Sun on the day of his disappearance, thus also to those midpoints. Those midpoints can indicate injuries and violent measures, while the Pluto transit to the Saturn/Uranus in particular can indicate violence, brutality and harm from a major force. So, his chart (to a degree) fits with the event chart.

But moving on, for more background reports from today are that US intelligence services knew of the impending operation from intercepted communications, yet did nothing to stop it. This is quite troubling, as by law they are required to do so. That indicates either the Trump administration wanted Khashoggi gone, or chose not to interfere or was so inept that they failed to warn him. We can see reasons why they would want him out of the way, though. Khashoggi was against the war in Yemen, an advocate for the Muslim Brotherhood, critical of the Saudi’s stoush with Canada, critical of the way MbS was going about reforms – in general, just critical of MbS. It is known that Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, is great pals with MbS and had handed the prince a list of his enemies. Shortly after that we saw Saudi royals and businessmen enjoying a vacation at the Ritz Carlton in Riyadh.

Trump has issued a lukewarm response, saying that “…hopefully that sorts itself out”, referring to the incident. There were doubts, though, that the Saudi ‘hit team’ actually killed Khashoggi at the consulate. The Turks are still searching for the mysterious black van. We have not seen the purported video. Historically, the Saudis have avoided such messiness as murdering their own in foreign countries and instead kidnap their victims and render them back to the kingdom where they can do so at their leisure in private. The WaPo buried the lede that the Saudis had lain in wait for their victim. Why would the WaPo do that if they were worried for their journalist? There are aspects to this story that do not add up.

As far as journalists go, mainstream journalists and many US senators in the US are up in arms over the affair, probably because it hit close to home. Khashoggi was ‘one of theirs’, and for MbS – one on whom those same journalists have heaped praise since his rise to power – to order such a thing is both embarrassing and worrying. One of them, Thomas Friedman of the NYT, recently posted that the abduction/murder of Khashoggi was worse in scale than the Saudi war crimes being committed in Yemen. We’ll let that one sink in a little. The Saudi intervention in Yemen, backed by France, the UK and US, is starving thousands and putting millions at risk of the same, not to mention the probably tens of thousands of innocent people who have already been killed in the process. And we are worried about one Saudi journalist? The hypocrisy about this affair out of Washington and the American mainstream media is quite blatant, suddenly being worried about human rights violations. Why not report on and worry about the war in Yemen? But there are wider implications here, some of which might pan out, others not.

To start, what this abduction/murder signifies more than anything else is a weak and insecure Saudi Kingdom, looking more like an act of desperation than a kingdom that can weather a little bit of criticism. The fact that Khashoggi, a Saudi, was working out of Washington and writing pieces for one of the nation’s premier newspapers that were critical of the new prince and the kingdom was not a good look, and something had to be done. You may have heard of Adnan Khashoggi, the celebrated CIA operative who was involved with the failed BCCI bank and the Iran Contra affair. Jamal was his cousin. He came from a very wealthy family. He was a prominent voice and knew the inner workings of the Saudi family.

On the same day of Khashoggi’s disappearance, Trump gave out a truculent blast at the Saudi leaders, saying that they wouldn’t last two weeks without American support. Trump wants the Saudis to boost oil production in these days leading to midterms, but OPEC is not game to do so. There was also a little matter of the Saudis wanting to purchase the Russian S-400 missile defense system instead of the American THAAD system, plus the fact they were dithering on other arms deal with the US. So now, even the Saudis are feeling the unpredictable nature of Trump, and that has to have them at least a bit concerned. Iran immediately seized on the moment and reached out to the House of Saud to resist the US bullying. So, the signs are that something is shaping up behind the scenes. Plans are not going well at the moment for either the Saudis or for Trump.

The Saudi Kingdom has lost 800,000 foreign workers since 2016, the policies of the Saudis are directly responsible. That is accompanied by a drop in foreign investment and a capital outflow of 15% of the Saudi GDP. This has created a hiring problem, as the Saudis do not want to do the menial, low-wage labor that those foreign workers would normally do. Sounds a bit like the US and Italy. The plans of MbS to ‘Saudi-ize’ the nation are backfiring. That, along with the detention,  strong-arming and extortion of many of the princes of the land last year is casting a pretty dark shadow over the Kingdom.

The war in Yemen is not going well, Syria is all but lost to them and Iran is rising in strength in the region. Now, Russia is stepping in as the key interlocutor in the region, and that does not sit well with Washington. And while all this is happening, the Prince MbS is spending big on a painting, a yacht (a billion dollars right there) and a you-beaut new French chateau, all the while calling for rolling up one’s sleeves, sacrificing and working hard. The Saudis – not Syria or Iran – could well be the next failed state in the Middle East.

However, the US can ill-afford to let that happen. The Saudis bankroll a lot of the dirty work that gets done in the Middle East. They have largely funded the jihadist groups in Syria, and they are the source, or we should say one of the two faces, or the petro-dollar. If the Saudis fail it will wreck the US economy. The Saudis and Washington have formed a very toxic relationship over the years, based upon the militarization of oil revenue, shown in the Saudi sunset chart by the Jupiter/Neptune conjunction in the 6th house. Without the Saudis, the US would lose their dominance in the Middle East. There is little doubt about it. This Khashoggi incident has opened a potential big can of worms for Trump and Co., and he cannot afford to be too unkind to the Saudis. Trump has some decisions to make, and fast. The US and the Saudis are in a pickle now. MbS is unstable and inexperienced and we have a president who is in the same boat. We can watch for some very interesting developments in the next months across the Middle East and in Foggy Bottom.

And in a quick final summary, the Khashoggi incident has highlighted certain key points, which will need to be watched closely from now. As summarized From M. K. Bhadrakumar‏ @BhadraPunchline Oct 7 as a possible sequence of events coming as fallout from this event:

“Khashoggi wrecks up Trump’s Middle East strategies in following order:

  1. a) Saudi-US ties entering unchartered waters;
  2. b) Pompeo and Bolton go whistling on Iran,
  3. c) GCC disintegrates;
  4. d) Iran rising;
  5. e) Turkey-Iran axis strengthens;
  6. e) Yemen war ending;
  7. f) Israel in big trouble.”

The Turks and Trump will both benefit from this, being able now to squeeze MbS for funds in order to make the case go away – or at least they had hoped so. But the Saudis aren’t budging, and that does not signal well for Trump. There are people in the US who want MbS gone and they are going to push hard for it. This could get very ugly very quickly. If the Saudis cut oil production, it will send shock waves through the US economy. If things keep dragging on there will be breaking news stories to come from Washington and the Saudi Kingdom. From the look of the charts, it looks like sequestration at least for MbS, and the possible spilling of blood among family members in the Kingdom. And if gas prices in the US spike before midterms, the sanctions against Iran go out the window, as well as hopes for a rise in Republican fortunes at the midterm elections. Anything can happen at this point, but there are huge pressures on the Trump administration now and on MbS.

A clear message was sent to expat Saudis, as was referenced previously, and what we see from this is that, far from being a reformer, MbS is rather another Saudi autocrat. In fact, he has never described himself as a reformer, having actually denied being such. And now he has put himself in a predicament because of this incident from his lack of experience. He might have the Saudis cowed – or maybe not – but that does not apply to the US or the Turks. But there is more. There are members of Congress in the US already calling for sanctions against the Saudis involved if Khashoggi’s murder at Saudi hands is proven.

Prince MbS shares something in common with the Trump administration – a penchant for hubris and blunders, as evidenced by the Mars/Saturn square in both charts. On the date of the incident the blunder on the part of MbS is writ large, whether he ordered the operation or someone close to him did. The transiting Sun had been conjunct the Mars/Saturn MP (the so-called ‘death axis’), having just passed the MP the previous day, and transiting Jupiter was conjunct the Saturn of MbS, inflaming the hubris represented by the Mars/Saturn square. This incident was a big mistake on his part. And, it pits him against several colossal egos involved either directly or indirectly: Trump, Erdogan and Netanyahu. Not a one of them is going to want to give ground, and they will play this for all it is worth. We’ll have a look at that emerging scenario in another piece in the near future. The ordering of Khashoggi’s disappearance was a turning point in the career of MbS.

Surprises do happen, and Jamal Khashoggi may indeed resurface. I would have doubts about it. People who get rendered to Saudi Arabia are generally never heard from again. But if by some long shot he does, then we can probably bet that he will have some very fascinating stories to tell about his little vacation. That is probably, too, why we are not likely to ever see him again. Fare thee well, Jamal.

[1] Ebertin, The Combination of Stellar Influences, p. 189

Featured image from Washington Post

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