On Oct. 2, Jamal Khashoggi entered the Saudi Arabian consulate in Turkey in hopes of fixing paperwork to prove he had the legal right to marry his Turkish fiancée. It was at the doors of the consulate that he was last seen alive.
His disappearance has shaken the world as the United States and other world leaders scrambled to find their responses — or lack thereof — and memorized their lines to engage in this global, political show. There are now reports of the Saudi Arabian journalist’s murder and intentional torture at the consulate.
As news organizations try to piece together the events of the Saudi critic’s disappearance, two things are clear: what happened inside those walls can directly trace back to the Saudi Arabian royal court, and Saudi Arabia has blatantly and quite openly attempted to cover up the events to protect its economic interests.
Turkish officials, who claim to have both audio and video proof, said that Khashoggi was killed in the span of seven terrible minutes in which he was tortured, mutilated and dismembered.
Their recordings allegedly prove that his fingers were cut off as 15 men from the consulate held him down, and one injected him with a sedative to silence him. Shortly after, they carried him into another room, in which he was dismembered on a meeting table.
Saudi Arabia denied the killing for two weeks after Khashoggi’s disappearance, but later changed its story to say that he engaged in a “fistfight” in the consulate, which lead to his death. In the early course of events, President Donald Trump stood by Saudi Arabia’s version of the story.
Since his election, Trump has signaled to Saudi Arabia that the U.S. would stand by it as long as the ruthless and young Saudi Arabian crown prince Mohammed bin Salman kept oil prices down and continued buying U.S. weapons.
Bin Salman has received global praise for his minimal attempts to modernize Saudi Arabia which include giving women the right to drive (under many conditions). With what seems to be newly founded, strong support from the White House, the 33-year-old prince has shamelessly intensified his political strategies: His atrocious war in Yemen continues and is the cause of tens of thousands of civilian deaths; he has ordered the arrests of hundreds of Saudi activists; he once detained the prime minister of Lebanon and forced him to resign; and he jailed many of his royal family members and fined them hundreds of millions of dollars under the banner of “exposing corruption.” All of the above emboldened the young prince, giving him the power to openly carry out atrocities without consequences. And who is to stop him from ordering the murder of a journalist who is critical of his policies?
“I would love if [the crown prince] wasn’t responsible,” Trump said to The Washington Post. “I think it’s a very important ally for us.” It seems that Trump will continue to stand by Saudi Arabia — this so far is true — as the life of a journalist is of no concern with the billions of dollars at stake if the arms deal with the country were to go south. However, there is still a way for consequences. Trump has recently deferred the matter to Congress and taken a slightly harsher stance on Saudi Arabia over the past week. Moreover, Congress could reject future arms deals with Saudi Arabia, thereby mitigating U.S. involvement in the Yemen war and possibly limiting Saudi Arabia’s power in the country.
Although morality as a concept has become socially irrelevant due to its subjective nature, there are matters, as a society, we have collectively agreed are right or wrong. And torturing and murdering a journalist is one of those matters. With the current global theatrics serving as an example, it seems that our political leaders have gone morally bankrupt.
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