By Umar Farooq
Saudi Arabia should not be allowed to resume normal relations with the rest of the world until the kingdom “puts on more than a show of change” after the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, The Washington Post’s Editorial Board said in an opinion piece.
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has been widely criticized after the killing of Khashoggi, a contributor for The Post, in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. After the Saudi government initially denied responsibility, it switched its story a few times before blaming the murder on a botched rendition operation.
“The 33-year-old crown prince has suppressed real and perceived opponents with a brutality that is unprecedented in Saudi history, culminating in the murder and dismemberment of journalist Jamal Khashoggi,” the editorial board said Saturday.
The international community refused to accept the Saudis’ claim that the incident was not a premeditated murder.
Agnes Callamard, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, is leading an international inquiry into the killing of Khashoggi.
“The regime promised accountability for the Khashoggi killing, but in practice continues to stonewall,” the board wrote. “Special rapporteur Agnes Callamard, this last week was denied access to the crime scene at the Saudi Consulate when she visited Istanbul.”
The Post outlined the measures taken by the country to try and restore its international reputation, including the release of one of the most prominent businessman it detained, Amr Dabbagh, as well as staging an investment conference seeking $426 billion in private investment, and bringing in singer Mariah Carey to perform a concert.
“The objective here is clear: to resume normal commerce between Saudi Arabia and the democratic world, and attract desperately needed investment, without meaningful change in the regime controlled by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. It’s in the interest of the United States and its allies, as well as Saudi Arabia itself, that this strategy fail,” the board wrote.
The Post said that in the midst of everything happening in Saudi Arabia, U.S. President Donald Trump seems to be fine with it. However, if Trump continues to normalize relations with the kingdom and bin Salman after the killing of Khashoggi, it will have “bad long-term consequences.”
“Mohammed bin Salman’s apologists frequently speak of the need to preserve ‘stability’ in the kingdom. But it is unstable now, and becoming more so. The best way to foster genuine equilibrium is for Western governments, investors and entertainers to shun the regime until it puts on more than a show of change,” the board wrote.