On October 2nd, Jamal Khashoggi walked into the Saudi Arabian Consulate in Istanbul and never walked out.
THE MBS EFFECT
MBS’ obsession with power and his determination to consolidate political and economic power under his command by any ruthless means necessary was apparent to some objective observers in the Middle East and the West, who sounded the alarm early on.
The warnings began when he took over virtually all key ministries, when he claimed he would fight corruption with arbitrary arrests and Mafia-style shakedowns, when he started a mass execution of Saudi Shi’ites—publically executing 47 Shia activists and clerics on the same day, when he arrested the Prime Minister of Lebanon and forced him to resign while visiting Riyadh, when he put a blockade on Qatar and recklessly tried to invade it, and certainly when he turned Yemen into a hell on earth.
But the Crown Prince does have his own defenders. Both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt have called on President Donald Trump, urging him to save MBS from this public disgrace because he is an indispensable strategic partner.
WHAT LED TO KHASHOGGI’S MARTYRDOM?
Jamal Khashoggi had ten qualities that MBS and his blind cohorts considered grave threats.
he was destined to become the Bouazizi of that second wave. He propagated that freedom of speech and expression is a God-given right and when a ruler resorts to tyranny it is an Islamic obligation to counsel him, and when necessary, publically call him out. He opposed the thinly-veiled campaign of Saudi Arabia to demonize Turkey and Qatar. He was against the arbitrary arrests used to silence certain prominent figures in the country. He was a genuine patriot who loved his country and rejected the idea of being portrayed as part of the political opposition or as foreign nation’s mouthpiece. He was against Israel’s illegal unilateral decision to take all of Jerusalem as its capital city and Saudi Arabia’s silent consent on the matter. And, more importantly, he was critical of MBS’ repressive modus operandi, haphazard economic reform, and self-destructive foreign policy, especially with the catastrophic war in Yemen.
FUTURE OF SAUDI/US RELATIONS
‘deal of the century’ (or peace process hogwash). The US has strategically kept the Kingdom without a US Ambassador since 2017.
Trump will continue fighting hard for a strategic partnership with Saudi Arabia. But when American Senators are openly expressing their discontent and supporting protests regarding this mortal fiasco and how that could irreversibly damage America’s global credibility, when one of Saudi Arabia’s biggest supporters in the Senate, Senator Lindsey Graham, publically declares “I am going to sanction the hell out of Saudi Arabia”, when the global public opinion is in unison in their condemnation and outrage, when international investors boycott Saudi Arabia’s hyped Desert Davos conference, and when the Editorial Board of media powerhouses such as Washington Post calls the kingdom an “outlaw regime”, it should be obvious that resistance is simply futile.
Saudi Arabia will have to choose between becoming like the ‘smiling Hajjaj’—the most ruthless mass murderer in Islamic history—and the upholding the stability of the Kingdom.
IMPACT ON TURKEY’S STATUS IN THE ISLAMIC WORLD
Mindful of the dynamics, Turkey restrained itself throughout this international ordeal and gave Saudi Arabia enough space and time to confess and penalize those who associated with the assassination. Turkey did not want to come across as an apolitical exploiter, eager to discredit the Kingdom or stain its image.
The time is ripe for launching a campaign of internal healing and restoration in Turkey as well. Erdogan should free the thousands who were imprisoned during ‘the purge”, or during the state of emergency after the failed coup. As documented by various human rights groups, these prisoners include journalists and other civilians whose only guilt is one of association. And, unfathomable as it may seem, extending an amnesty to his nemesis, Fethullah Gulen, whom he wanted extradited for treason, might be another deed for Erdogan to accomplish to further uphold his image.
CAN THE MONARCHY SURVIVE THIS MADNESS?
This barbaric killing that crossed all international diplomatic norms will also impact the kingdom’s relationship with the West, especially with the US, UK and France – their largest weapons suppliers and their main logistical support.
Unfortunately, the monarchy’s top leadership is underestimating the magnitude of the gathering clouds in the same way that it underestimated the capacity of the Turkish government.
Saudi Arabia must commit itself to launching a profound reform program that starts with the sidelining of MBS followed by the ending of the war in Yemen, dropping the Shia crescent and Muslim Brotherhood two-headed boogieman nonsense, and empowering its local Shia community. Granted, there will be some who will fight tooth and nail to keep status quo, especially those who believe that scrutinizing the monarchy is equivalent to questioning the custodianship of the two Holy Mosques.
So far, a number of official denials made by the Saudis were, in one way or another, refuted. And each time, the Saudis came back humiliated and forced to accept the Turkish account. Yet the cover up continues, and the Turkish authorities and Khashoggi’s family are yet to find the victim’s body for forensic tests and burial. There is still no closure.
Every delay and every attempt made to dodge culpability will only push Saudi Arabia closer to a breaking point.
By Abukar Arman@Abukar_Arman | Abukar Arman is a Somali political analyst, writer and former Special Envoy to the United States. Arman is also a widely published foreign policy specialist, writing extensively on Somalia and international political affairs.