NAZMUS SAKIB FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
After two weeks of outright denial and rejections, the Saudi government has finally acknowledged that it has indeed killed one of its citizens in a consulate in a foreign land -- Istanbul, Turkey, on October 2. The unfortunate victim is journalist Jamal Khashoggi, an ex-Saudi royal insider who later turned into a moderate critic of many of the blunders the new regime that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has unleashed in the last three years.
Assassinating dissidents is nothing new for dictators. However, the Khashoggi incident was able to garner global front-page attention and an almost unanimous outcry from major Western democracies due to its extremely brutal nature.
Khashoggi went to his own country's consulate in a foreign country to get divorce papers so that he could remarry his new-found love abroad. After entering, he was tortured to death; his fingers were chopped off while he was still alive; and his body was dismembered and disappeared.
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The fact that Khashoggi flew from his own country last year fearing his freedom or even life, found refuge in the US, and was able to get back to his lifelong profession -- reporting for one of the world's most famous newspapers, The Washington Post -- added the inalienable dimension to the scandal that Saudi Arabia's Western allies couldn't easily shrug off.
All the direct suspects of this murder are in one way or another directly related to bin Salman. A few of the accused assassins have even been seen travelling with the prince as part of his security detail. Despite officials' initial denials, even Prince bin Salman's closest ally, President Trump himself, has insinuated his involvement by saying, "If anyone were going to be [involved], it would be him."
Let us not fool ourselves here; until this incident, bin Salman was the "great reformer" whom all the Western allies embraced, gave red-carpet reception and championed as a model leader. The New York Times, in a classic portrayal of their orientalist fantasy, published excited acclamation opinion pieces depicting him as the great-awaited messianic Arab reformer who will bring Saudi Arabia into the 21st century. This, again, is not new: A US academic has documented how The New York Times has championed Saudi Arabian dictators as reformers for last 70 years.
This US has had a love affair with the country, despite the fact that Saudi Arabia espouses and executes the original Wahabi ideology of ISIS, acknowledged by one of its own top clerics. The champions of human rights and democracy in Western capitals had no qualms when bin Salman invaded Yemen without any provocation and killed more than 10,000, leading to the world's worst contemporary humanitarian disaster. The Western allies were on the Saudi-United Arab Emirates' side when the axis bankrolled the unseating of the one and only democratically-elected government in Egypt's history through a coup in 2013.
A Washington Post journalist's cinematic killing is not the only blunder that the axis of Western allied autocrats unleashed in the region. The Rabaa massacre at the hands of Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the military ruler of Egypt, or the killing of Yemeni children by aerial bombing, or a cholera epidemic are only few of such examples. However, moments like this and occasional scandals like Khashoggi's killing make the human-rights-championing allies of the Arab dictators look bad.
This incident has brought many questions into the light: Why are Western governments in bed with the brutal dictators in Middle East? Why are these governments, with a direct or an indirect blessing of their Western allies, allowed to ruthlessly suppress the legitimate popular will of the overwhelming majority?
Until these questions are resolved, these occasional "hiccups" from the Gulf monarchs will continue to embarrass their liberal democrat bedfellows in the West. Generations of disenfranchised, aggrieved, young people will continue to oppose Saudi officials like of Mr. Bone Saw, who run the show as a proxy of the major powers, until and unless the alliance dynamics of global politics is changed.
The sooner the human conscience of all the stakeholders take action to stop Saudi Arabia's ongoing atrocities, the prospect of peaceful coexistence will be brighter.
Nazmus Sakib is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Political Science at Texas Tech University. His opinion columns have appeared in the Forbes Magazine, Newsweek Magazine (Middle East edition), openDemocracy, TRTworld and others. Follow him on Twitter: @nirjhor_bd.