If the evidence Turkey claims to have against Saudi Arabia in the disappearance or murder of Jamal Khashoggi pans out, it is time to close the book on American-Saudi relations. We can still talk and work towards common goals, but no more selling weapons, no more defending their economic choices, no more favorable treatment. They should be classified the same way we classify other nations that are neither our allies or enemies.
To keep them as an ally betrays everything it means to be the United States of America.
For full disclosure, I’ve been an opponent to the standard U.S. policy of looking the other way when Saudi Arabia does something heinous since well before Khashoggi was allegedly murdered by them. From their treatment of women to their treatment of Jews and Christians to the fact that they’ve helped spread radical Islam to all corners of the earth, the Saudis have always been and will always be against the freedoms that Americans hold dear. We should not be selling them weapons any more than we should sell Iran weapons. Saudi Arabia is the opposite side of the same Islamic extremist coin as Iran. They’re just more adept at sweeping things under the rug until now.
Khashoggi held permanent residency in the United States and worked for a U.S. company. He may have been a Saudi citizen, but he was not charged, tried, and convicted of a crime. He was assassinated, likely because of his amplified voice through the Washington Post speaking out against a totalitarian regime that does not take kindly to dissidents.
Turkey claims they have irrefutable recordings, audio for certain and possibly video, from within the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Let’s briefly put aside the alarming revelation that Turkey apparently bugs foreign consulates, which is worrisome to say the least. In this case, we’ll accept that they gained access to recordings through some means that may or may not have broken international law.
They have all the details, including the identities of the 15-man assassination team that allegedly captured, tortured, and killed Khashoggi. They know how it went down, have video evidence from outside the consulate, and now have recordings from inside the consulate that they claim prove the Saudis brutally murdered him.
If it’s true, the administration is caught between a rock and a hard place.
The rock is the fact that Saudi Arabia is second only to Israel as our most reliable and strategic partner in the Middle East. They’re the hedge that helps keep Iran, Syria, Lebanon, and Hamas from overrunning the region. Without Saudi Arabia, our other allies in the Middle East would be further in harm’s way.
The hard place is the backlash that will come from these revelations. This is going to be a difficult debacle for the State Department to clean up, especially with bipartisan efforts on Capitol Hill to get to the truth and dish out justice in some form or fashion. Some of the most conservative and most liberal in DC are unified in their desire to condemn Saudi Arabia for these actions.
The White House had hoped there was enough doubt that could be cast on the whole thing to prevent them from going after Saudi Arabia or explaining why they won’t. Every day, new evidence is emerging that’s shredding any hope for doubt. I put it at a 90% certainty that Saudi Arabia did it two days ago. Since then, the evidence that has come out puts me at a 99% certainty. They did it and they’re trying to cover it up.
If I were to put percentages to the likelihood of guilt, it would be 90/10 that Turkey is telling the truth and Saudi Arabia is covering up an abduction and/or murder. Unfortunately, it’s not quite certain enough to dismiss Turkey altogether.
Today, I think we have enough certainty to act.
It’s time to rethink our relationship with Saudi Arabia. They won’t like it and there will be major repercussions, but it’s the right thing to do. If we don’t, what does that say about our desire for law and order?