Jamal Khasshoggi Was Known As a Voice of Reform in Saudi Arabia
Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance brings to light the current policies of Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. When we first learned of the bin Salman, he was hailed as a leader who would bring much needed economic and social change to Saudi Arabia. For example women can now drive cars in Saudi Arabia.
The Price For Modernization
Tawakkol Karman, of Yemen, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate for 2011, holds a picture of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi as she talks to members of the media near the Saudi Arabia consulate in Istanbul.
Khashoggi has lived in self-imposed exile in the U.S. since Prince Mohammed’s rise to power. He disappeared Oct. 2 while on a visit to the consulate to get paperwork done so he could marry his Turkish fiance.
Image by VOA News
Less noticeable to the western world was the price people had to pay for the new direction of Saudi Arabia. For example the press is not very free in the kingdom.
Bin Salman has siphoned most of Saudi Arabia’s political power to himself. He makes the rules. He enforces laws as he sees fit.
When women started driving in Saudi Arabia there were still some women activists in prison for having demonstrated for women’s right to drive. You might think they would be immediately released since their cause was won.
That wasn’t the case. Prince Mohammed once made very clear that women could drive not because they had demonstrated and put pressure on their government. Women could drive because Prince Mohammed ordered that women be allowed to drive. So much for civil disobedience.
The idea that the people have any power at all is a western one. We take our voting rights and our freedoms of religion and expression for granted. Apparently things are very different in Saudi Arabia.
A Journalist Who Didn’t Fit In
Jamal Khashoggi had been educated in the U.S. He attended Indiana State University. In the early 1980’s Khashoggi’s career took him to Afghanistan to cover the ten-year conflict that began with the Soviet occupation.
No stranger to danger, Khasshoggi traveled around the middle-east covering the many conflicts that arose. Throughout the 80s and 90s and early 2000s, Khashoggi was usually in good standing with the royal family. However in the 2011 Arab Uprising – known as the Arab Spring – Khasshoggi sided with protesters more than with the powerful rulers.
Khasshoggi backed the moderate Islamists, who were seen as a threat to the rulers in Saudi Arabia. Writing about freedom and people’s rights in the Arab world, Jamal Khasshoggi was at odds with the Saudi government. His more than occassional criticisms of the government’s policies and actions failed to bring him closer.
Believing, with reason, that his life was in danger, Jamar Khasshoggi went into self-exile in the U.S. where he contributed articles to the Washington Post. On October 2, 2018, Khasshoggi went to the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, Turkey to take care of some paperwork so he could marry his Turkish fiance. He hasn’t been seen since. He is feared to be dead.
Foreign Affairs In Turmoil
Turkish officials allege that Khasshoggi was killed inside the Saudi consulate. If this turns out to be true, how will it change the relationship between Saudi Arabia and the U.S? How will it affect the situation in Iran? And Israel?
These are just a few of the questions that will come up should we find out that a resident in the U.S. was killed by the Saudis.