Image Credits: AP Photo
The world is watching right now as relations between Saudi Arabia and the United States are test. A Saudi-born, US-based journalist for the Washington Post, Jamal Khashoggi, who has been critical of the Saudi regime, is presumed dead at the hands of the Saudi government. How the United States responds will set the tone for Middle East relations for years to come. There is still so much we do not know about the disappearance and likely death of Jamal Khashoggi, but let’s break it down.
On October 2nd, 2018, Jamal Khashoggi walked into the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, Turkey to receive some paperwork that he was expected to pick-up. His fiancee was waiting outside for him, but he never came back out. He has not been seen since. In the days following his disappearance, Turkey came out and said that they believed that inside the consulate, a 15-person Saudi team tortured, killed, and dismembered Khashoggi. Since then, the Turkish have claimed to have audio recordings that back up these claims, though that has not been independently confirmed.
While some have criticized Trump’s response, saying he has not been strong enough against the Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed Bin Salman, for his potential role in Khashoggi’s death, others, like sitting members of Congress, have called for a hard investigation into the issue and sanctions to be leveled against Saudi Arabia. These calls include an invocation of the Magnitsky Act. This was first used in response to Russia but which authorizes the US government to freeze the assets of, sanction, and ban offenders of human rights, such as regime leaders who have journalists murdered.
On Wednesday, the Washington Post released the last op-ed written by Jamal Khashoggi, titled “What the Arab World Needs Most is Free Expression” in which he advocated for some forum to share stories like his own. He wrote,
“The Arab world needs a modern version of the old transnational media so citizens can be informed about global events. More important, we need to provide a platform for Arab voices. We suffer from poverty, mismanagement and poor education. Through the creation of an independent international forum, isolated from the influence of nationalist governments spreading hate through propaganda, ordinary people in the Arab world would be able to address the structural problems their societies face.”