The Prince and the Journalist

Saudi regime tests the limits of permissive policies with the Jamal Khashoggi case.

Because of its strategic role for the West, especially for the U.S., the absolute monarchy that has ruled Saudi Arabia since the country’s foundation has always had rulers of important countries turn a blind eye to sporadic abuses.

Apparently, the regime is testing the limits of this permissive policy with the case of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, missing since Oct. 2. He was last spotted entering the Istanbul consulate, where he was picking up a document that made his union with a Turkish citizen official.

In spite of the lack of confirmation, for now, on Khashoggi’s whereabouts, everything leads us to believe he was murdered inside the diplomatic office. The fact that he had become a critic of the ascending Prince Mohammed bin Salman raises further suspicion.

This episode happened just when MBS — how the anointed heir to King Salman is known — was reaching reasonable success in conveying to Western countries the image of a reformist who was willing to modernize his kingdom. Prosaic concessions for the Western world, such as allowing women to drive, contributed to a good impression.

The Saud dynasty’s intransigence with the opposition is notorious and the prosecution of several people happened under the complacent silence of their allies. The case at hand is different from the rest because Khashoggi went into self-imposed exile in America and wrote columns for The Washington Post. Therefore, the White House cannot overlook his disappearance.

Donald Trump’s reaction confirmed his erratic nature when it comes to foreign policy. After threatening to “severely punish” the Saudi government in case there was proof of its involvement in the journalist’s death, he said that MBS told him he had no knowledge of what had happened in Istanbul.

Surely, the president is not facing a simple situation. Due to its position against Iran, Saudi Arabia — along with Israel — plays an important part in American diplomacy in the Middle East. The country is also among the biggest worldwide producers of petroleum and gun importers, two extremely important sectors for the U.S.

Those aspects have to be taken into consideration. However, they cannot justify a possible operation that blurs the crime’s circumstances. Trump, pressured by Congress and public opinion, would be better off supporting an independent investigation — something that seems very unlikely.

About this publication

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply