It’s not clear how the latest news regarding the now-confirmed death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi will impact government or business’ approach to dealings with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The Saudis issued a statement acknowledging the reports which have been out for more than a week that Khashoggi died in their consultate in Turkey. What they did not acknowledge was allegations the dissident critic of the Kingdom’s leadership was killed at the directive of the ruling royal family, specifically Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Instead, their version embraces the “rogue actors” theory floated by U.S. President Donald Trump earlier in this week. 18 Saudi nationals have been detained in connection with what the Saudi’s investigation claims was a meeting gone wrong, which led to a fistfight and Khashoggi’s death. Five government officials were also fired as a result of the report, including MBS’ adviser Saud al-Qahtani and deputy intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Ahmed al-Assiri.
What happens next is the question. Trump called the Saudi report a “great first step”. The Washington Post claims CIA officials are working to verify an audio recording Turkey says proves Khashoggi was killed and dismembered by a team of Saudi agents. If confirmed, that would make it more difficult to buy the “accidental death” conclusion the KSA is putting forward.
For WWE, it’s a problem of timing in addition to one of ethics. Their Crown Jewel event is scheduled for Riyadh in two weeks. The company’s official line is they’re “currently monitoring the situation,” but at some point Vince McMahon will have to make a decision regarding the stadium show on Fri., Nov. 2.
Indications are they’re moving forward, but they’ve not committed 100%. In addition to the lack of a statement confirming the show will go at King Saud University Stadium and conspicuously removing references to Saudi Arabia from their promotion of the event, Pro Wrestling Sheet noted that tickets did not go on sale as originally planned yesterday (Oct. 19). The event page on WWE.com only references the show’s date, with no reference to location or any information about ticket availablity:
At what point does the company need to fish or cut bait?
More as we have it.