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The Saudi royal family is watching its kingdom turn into a pariah state. No one believes its lies, its laughable assertion that Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi died in a fistfight at the country's consulate in Istanbul. And virtually no one, save for President Donald Trump, believes that the heir to the Saudi throne, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was, as he insists, a doe-eyed bystander.

There's broad consensus in the West that an assassination in Turkey of a journalist who had been living in the U.S. could only have taken place with the assent of the crown prince. And the Saudi claim that Khashoggi died after "a fight and a quarrel" falls apart when you consider the evidence that suggests premeditated murder:

A team of 15 Saudi agents dispatched to Istanbul included a Khashoggi body double who put on the dead man's clothes after the killing so that security camera video images would show a very much alive Khashoggi walking out of the consulate. With the group was an autopsy expert who decided to bring a bone saw on his trip. And if a fight broke out, wouldn't a squad of 15 security agents be able to subdue a 59-year-old man without killing him?

The Saudi kingdom has never been a poster child for the sanctity of human rights. Nevertheless, the royal family's alleged actions in the Khashoggi saga--from the planning to the murder to the cover-up--imperil Saudi Arabia's ties with the West and the U.S. in particular. Will the royal family reform on its own? Doubtful. The House of Saud needs an intervention.

In this case, an intervention can take the form of Western leaders, Trump included, confronting the royal family with a nonnegotiable demand: Acknowledge the crown prince's role in what happened to Khashoggi. Without that acknowledgment, Riyadh risks being seen by the West as a partner that can't be trusted, and the U.S. risks being cast as an enabler of deceit.

Can King Salman, 82, continue to risk Saudi Arabia's place in the world for the sake of a son who has inflicted so much damage to the kingdom? That's for the king to decide, not the U.S. But Trump and the rest of the West can try to steer him in the right direction.

Editorial on 10/24/2018

Print Headline: Others say: Family intervention needed

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