By Javad Heirannia

Could good come out of the Khashoggi tragedy?

October 23, 2018

TEHRAN – Professor Hossein Askari, an expert on Saudi Arabia who also teaches international business at the George Washington University, believes that “More and more people are witnessing the horror show inside Saudi Arabia and especially in Yemen.”

 “I must stress that the media has been complicit in this cover up. The Yemen tragedy should be at the top of the news every day. At least now it is getting mentioned because of the Khashoggi tragedy,” Hossein Askari, who served as special advisor to Saudi finance minister, tells the Tehran Times

He adds that “Jamal Khashoggi’s death may not have been in vain after all. His legacy may bring a change in media reporting and a bit more morality in Western foreign policy toward the voiceless.”

Following is the text of the interview:

Q: First, let me ask you what the world must do to force King Salman and the Al-Sauds to address Khashoggi’s murder?

A: To begin with, the condemnation of a unified world, the West, NATO, the East and Muslims would be much more effective than one voice at a time. I am sorry to say that the weak link here may be the Trump White House and governments of many Muslim countries who take Saudi money and oppress their own people. But there is a lot Western countries can do. Freeze all arms sales to Saudi Arabia. To make the freezing of arms sales more painful to the rulers of Saudi Arabia, this should be accompanied by sanctions on investment in Saudi Arabia. And if Riyadh spews out more lies, then the sanctions should be made multilateral at the United Nations. Then let a sanction-happy USA veto this and suffer the ire of the world.

Q: What should Saudi Arabia do to satisfy world opinion?

A: In the end, all those responsible for this heinous crime, directly and indirectly, must be brought to justice. We must have a transparent investigation of all those responsible and of the individual or individuals who gave the orders. To be credible this investigation should be handled by a third party such as the United Nations. This must be followed up by appropriate punishment of the perpetrators as if they were ordinary citizens. No special justice for any of those responsible. If it is proven that any Al-Saud, including MBS, had a hand in this, they should be sanctioned by the West and all civilized nations and their assets frozen. Simultaneously if some in the West, such as Jared Kushner, were complicit in this murder they should be exposed and sanctioned as well.

Q: What has MBS’ handling of this tragedy exposed about Saudi policies and practices?

A: It seems that people around the world are unaware of conditions in Saudi Arabia, all is not well in the ‘magic’ kingdom! Some facts are getting more exposure globally. MBS is not the reformer that some would have us believe. He wants women to have the right to drive and he will allow movie theatres. These are cosmetic reforms. Now people are seeing the extent of his autocratic rule—arrests of people who simply lobbied for the right to drive, for those who expressed mild criticism of autocratic rule, arrests and incarceration without judicial process, torture and even death. Even more shocking has been the very limited coverage of the ongoing genocide in Yemen, a genocide perpetrated by MBS and sadly supported by U.S. intelligence and other military assistance with arms coming from a host of Western nations led by the U.S., the U.K., France and Germany. Some in the United States are just becoming aware that ‘something is going on’ in Yemen. The world must stop this horror show of a thirty-three year-old MBS flexing his muscles, supported by the slightly older Kushner at the White House, before two million innocent people starve to death.

Q: Am I correct in thinking that Khashoggi’s tragic murder may not be completely in vain as some things around the Middle East may change for the better?    

A: Yes. Let’s hope for something good to come out of this tragedy. The world must not stand by idly. More and more people are witnessing the horror show inside Saudi Arabia and especially in Yemen. And I must stress that the media has been complicit in this cover up. The Yemen tragedy should be at the top of the news every day. At least now it is getting mentioned because of the Khashoggi tragedy. Jamal Khashoggi’s death may not have been in vain after all. His legacy may bring a change in media reporting and a bit more morality in Western foreign policy toward the voiceless.

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