The Saudis Have to Answer for the Murder of Jamal Khashoggi
Jamal Khashoggi is a respected journalist, US resident and Washington Post columnist. He had become a prominent critic of Saudi Arabia's ruling family. Turkey claims, and It's now widely believed, that Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman had him assassinated in Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul last week. Turkey has released the names of the "hit" team it says Saudi Arabia sent to carry out the assassination and dismember the body. The Saudis have denied the allegations, but the evidence is substantial and growing daily, and may now include both video and audio evidence.
The Saudis likely wanted to send a message to dissidents that they could be reached anywhere, and may have thought that without a body or clear evidence of a crime that the story would soon blow over. They may have miscalculated. Long-time Saudi supporters in the US Senate like Lindsey Graham are calling for a thorough investigation, and some international corporations have already pulled out of an international business conference scheduled for next week in Riyadh.
NPR: "Richard Branson, the British entrepreneur behind the Virgin Group, said Thursday that he will not be attending. Nor will World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, major tech investor Steve Case or Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, among many others."
"What has reportedly happened in Turkey around the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, if proved true, would clearly change the ability of any of us in the West to do business with the Saudi Government," Branson said in his announcement."
President Trump first said that he wouldn't consider canceling US arms sales to Saudi Arabia, but hedged a bit during a 60 Minutes interview, saying that the US is investigating and that if Saudi Arabia was behind Khashoggi's disappearance that there would be "severe consequences". However, in the same interview Trump wouldn't commit to sanctions, and Donald Trump Jr. is pushing the narrative that Khashoggi had ties to terrorists.
The Daily Beast: "Donald Trump Jr. on Friday promoted a smear tying Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi to Osama bin Laden, retweeting a series of tweets meant to imply that the Saudi commentator, who has been missing since last week, supported Islamic terrorism."
"With President Trump apparently reluctant to punish Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi’s alleged murder after he entered the Saudi embassy in Istanbul, conservative pundits have been straining to provide excuses for U.S. inaction."
President Trump needs to distance himself from his son's spurious allegations and delay US arms sales to the Kingdom until there is a clearer picture of what happened in the Saudi consulate and who ordered it. And, yes, if they were behind Khashoggi's murder, it's time to reconsider our open-ended support for Saudi Arabia's bloody campaign in Yemen.