By Mano Ratwatte –
A notable Saudi journalist, who was/is an outspoken critic of the Saudi Arabian government enters the Consulate in Istanbul Turkey. His name was Jamal Khashoggi. He entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2 to obtain a document certifying he divorced his ex-wife. He has not been seen since. He was also a contributory journalist to the famed Washington Post, and resided in the USA.
Turkish intelligence says he was abducted, assaulted and then murdered inside the Saudi Compound. Saudi officials have countered that claim, insisting Khashoggi left the building before vanishing. Turkey says it has video and audio surveillance to suggest otherwise.
USA is Saudi Arabia’s closest and oldest Arab ally. It profits immensely and so does the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) from bi-lateral trade and military transactions. KSA was the first foreign tour for President Trump; this was unprecedented for an incoming US President. Usually, a new President visits his close traditional allies such as Canada (Obama), or UK or even Mexico (Bush-43). To fete the vainglorious leader of the free-world, KSA pulled out all stops. They are believed to have flown in (by private plane) country singer Toby Keith from Oklahoma to sing 3 to 4 songs to an all-male audience, and paid a reported $3million dollars for his efforts. Toby Keith was told he cannot wear his trade mark cross, nor sing songs about women and booze. President Trump was ecstatic; the KSA signed on to about $110Billion dollars in weapons contracts with the world’s super power. KSA is ruled by smart thinkers who protect their interests. It was in their geo-political interests to rekindle the relationship with USA; it had taken a sour turn during Obama’s regime. During his visit, Trump brought several pictures of American weapons to a meeting with visiting Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman of Saudi Arabia. He boasted of multibillion-dollar sales of arms to the kingdom. Showing a sign to journalists at the meeting that read “12.5 billion in finalized sales to Saudi Arabia,” Trump boasted about all the money that US defense contractors would be getting for their products.
US is believed to have secret bases and stockpiles of weapons in the KSA as well. KSA, despite recent hiccups when oil prices crashed also excels at feeding the appetites of the west. It has tremendous oil wealth. They also see US as a partner in their long standing dispute with Iran; KSA views Iran as their ideological rival in the Muslim world. They would love to see the USA take a more hostile stance against Iran.
They were angered by Obama’s efforts to somewhat normalize relations with Iran with the nuclear treaty. In a pique of anger, Trump scuttled that agreement (all other signatories promised to uphold that international treaty; but not Trump; Iran had not violated a single condition imposed on it by the treaty either) for no reason other than that it was signed by Obama. He, in fact, has torn off or overridden so many executive orders related to the environment, TPP and other issues, just because Obama signed them. With Trump, and his hardcore hawkish top officials such as John Bolton, US is now following an aggressive policy towards Iran. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was a hawk when he was in Congress. Iran also fishes in troubled waters by aligning itself with many forces that are sworn to the destruction of the State of Israel and sponsoring groups listed as terrorist groups in the USA. Iran is stupid if it thinks it can destroy Israel without a death wish upon itself.
The Geo-Political equation in the Oil Rich Middle East is very clear. KSA will also not mind normalizing relations with Israel if the conditions are suitable. Iran is hostile to Israel. Now in Trump’s USA, KSA and Israel has found a very reliable ally.
Trump made the necessary statements” I am angry, I will talk to the King of KSA” etc., about the missing presumably murdered dissident journalist. Then his son Donnie Jr. retweets a message linking Khashoggi to terrorists; this is definitely to try to discredit the missing journalist (sounds familiar?).
But Trump also said he will not impose sanctions or halt the $110Billion dollar value military sales; he says if? We don’t sell China and Russia will sell it to them”. It makes sense. On October 13th Trump said United States would be “punishing” itself by halting military sales to Saudi Arabia even if it is proven that Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed inside the country’s consulate in Istanbul.
United Kingdom also profits immensely from selling weapons to KSA. Their sales run into Billions of dollars as well. Hundreds of millions of pounds worth of British-made missiles and bombs have been sold to KSA for use in Yemen under an opaque licensing system that makes tracking arms sales more difficult. The disclosure has prompted accusations that the government is trying to mask the true extent of British-made arms exports to Saudi, a claim denied by the Department for International Trade. (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jun/23/uk-hides-arms-trade-saudi-arabia–yemen)
USA has been mute about the gross violations of civil rights in Yemen, the bloody and dirty war between proxies of KSA and Iran. Most civilian deaths have been attributed to US made weapons deployed by KSA.
Already KSA has vowed retaliation against possible sanctions. KSA dismissed threats of sanctions, and vowed Saudi Arabia would retaliate against such action. “The kingdom affirms its total rejection of any threats or attempts to undermine it whether through threats to impose economic sanctions or the use of political pressure,” an official source said, quoted by state news agency SPA.”The kingdom also affirms that it will respond to any action with a bigger one”(Al-Jazeera)
Trump is a smart businessman; KSA is his biggest ally in the Oil-Rich Middle-East. In the likely event of a military conflict with Iran, KSA will be a pivotal ally. Little known fact is during the First Gulf War (and the only successful US led war in the Middle East) in 1991, US was quickly able to deploy forces because it had stockpiles of weapons in KSA , and staging areas in many of the non-democratic feudal Oil Potentates. To this date it has bases in Qatar and Bahrain, and has so many other facilities with military capabilities surrounding Iran.
US has significant bases in the feudal Kingdom of Bahrain as well; its fifth fleet anchors there. KSA helped the ruling Sunni minority crushed pro-democracy movements in 2011. No protests from US-UK. US has bases around the world surrounding Iran and so many other critical oil rich nations. It has secret bases and stockpiles of weapons in Saudi Arabia. It has bases in many Muslim oil rich Arab nations. It also has bases in the Pacific.
The cozy US_KSA relationship based on Oil and money and military needs will make sure this little glitch of a missing presumed murdered journalist is forgotten sooner than later. In Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS), US has a very reliable friend. It is important to note, that Trump’s not so moda, in fact smart Son in Law was the first to foster the relationship with MBS. MBS was offered the same sort of VVIP treatment when he visited the USA.
Trump tore up the Iran Nuclear deal for trumped up reasons. But it views Iran with its massive oil reserves, as a threat to their super-dominance in the Middle East. Iran too is up to mischief sponsoring terrorist groups inimical to Israeli interests. Don’t be shocked if the US-KSA and Israel create a Gleiwitz incident or a Gulf of Tonkin canard to start a war.
Sri Lanka cannot antagonize KSA; it has thousands of migrant workers in KSA and KSA also provides a lot of aid to Sri Lanka. It better not protest about a missing journalist; SL has no oil. So what’s the outcome? Hundreds of Billions in weapons sales, resulting in jobs and economic boost for the economies of USA and UK vs human rights? Sanctions? Nah! KSA is too rich, too powerful a nation to make the sort of threats the US and UK makes on little Island nations. Different strokes for different folks.