The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has finally admitted that Jamal Khashoggi was murdered inside its consulate in Istanbul. Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist who resided in the US, was a strong critic of Mohamad Bin Suleman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia.
On October 2, Khashoggi went to the consulate to take care of some paperwork related to his passport but never returned. His disappearance created a buzz around the globe and put tremendous pressure on the Saudi royals.
The Turkish authorities conducted an investigation and eventually it was revealed that he was murdered by a hit squad sent by Riyadh inside the consulate and that his body was cut into pieces with a bonesaw. For two weeks, Riyadh denied the allegations, but growing international pressure forced the Saudis to admit that Khashoggi was killed in a brawl with members of the hit squad. However, the Saudi government has denied claims that the crown prince, the de facto ruler of the kingdom who is known as MBS, played any role in the killing. However, Turkish intelligence has offered proof in the form of telephone recordings and CCTV footage that Saudi intelligence agents were involved. Anyone who is familiar with the House of Saud’s style of governance knows that Saudi intelligence would not carry out such an operation without getting the green light from the crown prince.
The vice chief of the Saudi intelligence agency is being made a scapegoat and has been removed from his job. Since Saudi Arabia is an ally of the US, it still enjoys President Donald Trump’s backing and it can be assumed that a few more low-level intelligence officers will be fired or arrested in order to show that Riyadh is cooperating with the investigation. The White House appears to hope that this will allow MBS to save face and reduce the pressure on Saudi Arabia to remove him from power.
Since his rise to power within the Saudi royal family, MBS has silenced dissent in the name of reform, leading a drive against corruption. He has presented himself as a reformist who is more liberal than his predecessors, allowing the opening of cinemas and lifting the ban on women driving. However, behind MBS’s soft face lurks a totalitarian ruler who wants to control the Muslim world.
MBS’s deadly military adventure in Yemen is already proving costly to the kingdom, and his intention to curtail the influence of Turkey and Iran on the Muslim world is no secret. What we have seen in the case of Kashoggi’s murder is a glimpse of MBS’s cruel intentions and his inability to control his wrath when it comes to dissent and criticism. This has raised serious questions among the royal family as well regarding the ability and psychological competence of MBS to rule the kingdom.
While the major European countries, international financial institutions, and corporate giants have pulled out of a conference (Davos in the Desert) organized to showcase MBS’s vision and attract investment. It is the Trump administration that is silently backing the Saudi royals. Had this been done by any other country, the US would have announced economic sanctions. However, it is exempted from facing any consequences because MBS enjoys a cordial relationship with Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and the kingdom is one of the biggest buyers of US arms.
Why the world still recognizes and gives legitimacy to the rulers of the kingdom is puzzling as they are an obstacle to the modernization of the Muslim world
Saudi Arabia, like Iran, is responsible for spreading violence and sectarian hate in the Muslim world. Why the world still recognizes and gives legitimacy to the rulers of the kingdom is puzzling as they are an obstacle to the modernization of the Muslim world.
The concept of the Muslim Ummah, which is used to foster extremism in Muslim countries, has been successfully weaponized by the Saudi royals. It can be described as a colonial Islam that is used to protect and advance the interests of the Saudi royal family. The monarchs have toppled Muslim regimes and encouraged jihad and extremism to not only wage proxy battles but also to maintain their grip on the Islamic world.
The role of Saudi Arabia in sponsoring the jihad of the 1980s against the USSR in Afghanistan and then using Pakistan’s military strength to protect its own interests is not hidden from anyone. It is alleged by many whistleblowers in Pakistan that deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s regime was destabilized by the Saudis to stop the politician from reducing the South Asian country’s economic dependence on Saudi Arabia and the US through the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) scheme. With the help of the Pakistani establishment, the Saudis toppled Sharif. Similarly, regimes in Egypt and Libya were toppled to serve Saudi interests.
Will the brutal murder of Khashoggi change the perception the global powers have of the rulers of Saudi Arabia and influence their diplomatic posture toward them? Maybe, but the kingdom is the largest exporter of oil in the world and one of the largest arms buyers and therefore cannot easily be forced to respect human rights and liberties.
Unless the Saudi royals are dethroned and the people are given the right to elect their rulers, the kingdom’s ruling class will continue to exploit its subjects and the whole Muslim world in the name of religion. MBS’s persecution of his critics and waging of wars to assert his authority clearly shows that he is mentally unstable and a danger to the world.
Perhaps it’s the time for the world to put pressure on Saudi Arabia to abolish its outdated monarchy and theocratic approach to governance and adopt instead a democratic system that respects human rights and celebrates freedom.