Women for Peace activist David Barrows joins about 17 other protesters to demonstrate against U.S. involvement in the Saudi-led war in Yemen in the offices of Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill October 22, 2018 in Washington, DC. Getty Images
The Americans are nervous that the UN will accuse them of human rights violations in Yemen and so should take a stand against the Saudis there. They can start with ending the Saudi travel ban on journalists.
Did Trump really tweet about the ‘cover up’ of the Khashoggi murder in such a manner, that it appeared he derided the amateurism of those carrying out the ghastly killing? It’s almost as though he is saying if the Saudis had paid him a decent wedge, that his own people could have done the job much more professionally.
Far fetched? Perhaps. But the horror story of despot getting into power in the White House and giving his Gulf Arab oil sheikh friends in the Middle East the green light to flex their muscles and behave badly – really badly – is not. It’s a reality which we are all living with as America is forced to re-examine its relations with Saudi Arabia whose benighted 33 year old Crown Prince has shown the world a glimpse of the brutality which is carried out habitually to anyone who dares to think. Just to think. Mohammad bin Salman cannot take any kind of comment or even humble advice from even those in his own court and is running Saudi Arabia along fierce, autocratic lines, which is expected of him, from his peers.
We shouldn’t be so shocked about Khashoggi who was only one of many who were renditioned and it is only down to the sensational amateurism of MbS’s henchmen – and the current Turkish investigation – that we know all the gory details.
But it isn’t so much the murder itself, but more the abysmal, half-cocked effort to cover it up which has spurned a broader morality check from Western governments, with Germany taking the initiative to block its own arms sales to the Gulf Arab kingdom. The wholesale impunity afforded to the Saudi Prince, via Trump’s absurdly inexperienced wannabe something son-in-law Jared Kushner, has resulted in the derailment to attention, to Saudi Arabia’s nefarious techniques in governing; or rather preserving the existence of its elite, the Saudi royal family, which the British enshrined during the first world war as they created a cluster of clients states in the Middle East whose very existence was based on their savagery, lack of trust of one another and reverence to the colonial model.
Indeed, T E Laurence, a polemic loner and somewhat awkward British serving officer said of the Saudis and their neighbors “The Arabs are even less stable than the Turks. If properly handled they would remain in a state of political mosaic, a tissue of small jealous principalities incapable of cohesion.”
The House of Saud was favored by the British for this reason and, not withstanding its savagery and reputation to never take prisoners as it swept across the (then) fractured country, its firebrand leader united a vast country, what is known as Saudi Arabia today. But there came a price. Wahhibism – a uniquely crafted interpretation of Islam not entirely unlike what Daesh practices against its non-believers – was also seen as a strong point, much later, after the second world war, where it was seen as a shining counterweight to the rapid expansion of communism. But the price the British paid then was savagery. And it’s the price that Trump is now paying with the Khashoggi attempted rendition and many like his.
Does the young prince believe he is more modern than his ancestors as he at least gives his enemies a chance to repent and to return to the kingdom? Khashoggi was a traitor. He had lived a rich and prosperous life as a devoted surf of his Saud rulers. He gained their trust and respect. They shared all their secrets with him over thirty years until the day he decided that he wanted to not only leave their propinquity, but to also use that privileged inside information against them to gain their respect and attention – but in so doing, possibly destroy them.
When President Erdogan of Turkey referred in his own parliament to the “Political killing” of Khashoggi, no western journalists picked this up, but his own parliamentarians knew what he meant. Khashoggi was a Muslim Brotherhood supporter – an organisation which the Saudis hate more than even Iran – and he was hoping to set up a TV channel in Turkey, a country which is aiming to take for itself more hegemony in the region, directly out of Saudi Arabia’s hands. The murder was not only a message to Saudi dissidents, but also to Turkey’s leader: don’t think you can ever get away with a stunt like that.
Yet the murdering and rendition itself is nothing new. MbS had been doing this for well over a year, detaining and murdering anyone who he feared might dare to comment on his ideas, let alone present himself as a threat to his tumultuous leadership. But it took the Khashoggi affair to gain the attention and imagination of the world’s media. It was like he did this to one of ours.