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US PRESIDENT Donald Trump may have pulled troops out of Syria because of information intercepted by Turkish intelligence alleging that Washington had approved the arrest of dissident Saudi Arabian journalist and US resident Jamal Khashoggi.
The US Spectator magazine claimed today that Turkey’s National Intelligence Organisation (MIT) obtained details of a phone call between senior Trump adviser Jared Kushner and Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman.
Unnamed sources told the article’s author that Mr Kushner had given the go-ahead for the arrest of Mr Khashoggi, who was then brutally dismembered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
It is claimed that Turkey’s authoritarian ruler President Recep Tayyip Erdogan used the information to force his US counterpart to withdraw troops from northern Syria, where they had been working alongside the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
US forces were abruptly pulled out last month. Mr Trump was widely denounced for clearing the way for Turkey’s subsequent invasion of northern Syria in alliance with jihadist forces.
Mr Erdogan and his allies have been accused of war crimes, including the use of chemical weapons and extrajudicial killings, as Nato’s second-largest army blitzed largely Kurdish towns and cities.
The Spectator claims came as Mr Trump was being put under increasing pressure from the opposition Democrats, who have launched impeachment proceedings against him.
According to the story, there are seven intelligence whistleblowers prepared to give evidence about Mr Trump’s dealings with foreign governments. Some of them are already known, for example the CIA whistleblower who reported the president’s phone call to his Ukrainian counterpart.
It was this information that triggered the impeachment process, after it was alleged that Mr Trump had pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden, Mr Trump’s potential rival in the 2020 race for the White House, over corruption allegations.
But at least four whistleblowers are believed to have information regarding Mr Trump’s relationship with the Saudi Arabian crown prince.
The Spectator was told that Mr Kushner had also been intercepted when revealing US secrets to Prince Mohammed and this is why Mr Trump’s son-in-law lost his security clearance earlier this year.
As expected, two key White House officials refused to appear at the latest impeachment hearing today. Mr Trump has insisted he will not engage in the process.
But in further bad news for the president, a US court ruled that Mr Trump must hand over his personal and corporate tax returns going back eight years to New York prosecutors. He is likely to appeal against the decision.
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