Jamal Khashoggi, a critic of the Saudi government and its Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, vanished after visiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey on October 2. Turkey is claiming to have both audio and video evidence that suggests the Saudi government ordered the killing of Khashoggi, who also writes for the Washington Post, but have yet to release it into the public domain. The story is still unfolding as authorities search for more leads with regard to the journalist’s disappearance.
The disappearance of Khashoggi is truly unfortunate and the circumstances surrounding his disappearance reflects poorly on Saudi Arabia, thus far. However, applying sanctions on Saudi Arabia for the disappearance of Khashoggi would be without merit since the U.S. has refused to apply sanctions on other countries that have been responsible for jailing, torturing and killing scores of journalists throughout the years, most notably Iran.
Which makes it rather rich that the Iranian government is calling for an international investigation into Khashoggi’s disappearance after Iranian officials raped, tortured and killed Iranian/Canadian photojournalist Zahar Kazemi in 2003. President Bush did absolutely nothing with regard to this egregious act, nothing what-so-ever. The media did not pressure Bush to sanction Iran nor did Congress. The United Nations remained silent in the wake of the medical examiners reports, which concluded that Iranian officials were responsible for her torturous death. Canada recalled their Ambassador to Iran and threatened sanctions but the threats were hollow, as Canada ultimately did nothing to retaliate.
Kavous Seyed Emami was an Iranian/Canadian environmentalist and professor who was kidnapped, jailed and eventually killed at an Iranian prison in February of 2018. Iranian officials claimed Emami committed suicide however, they offered no supporting evidence. There is no indication that Emami was ever diagnosed as suicidal at any point in his life, making his death highly suspicious. Even worse, it was reported that when Emami’s family went to retrieve his body from Iran, officials would not allow his wife, Maryam Mombeini, to leave the country. She was forced to stay behind in Iran while her deceased husband and the rest of her family flew back to Canada. As of June 26, 2018, Maryam Mombeini was still forced to stay in Iran and has not been allowed to go back home to Canada. The United Nations has done absolutely nothing with regard to this case either. The mainstream media seems to care more for Iranian/U.S. relations as opposed to highlighting that Iran kidnapped a citizen of a country allied with the United States. Maryam Mombeini’s name has yet to echo through the halls of the United States Congress and sanctions are not in consideration.
In fact, this past August, the government of Iran ordered 7 journalists to be jailed and flogged in the wake of their coverage of the Dervish protests. The international community didn’t bat a lash. Instead, they allowed journalists to receive punishment for reporting on a protest without calling for the Iranian regime to be punished in return. No calls for sanctions, no considerations of retaliation; they just acted as if it never happened.
February 28, 2018, the Washington Post reported that China had detained the relatives of three United States journalists and one U.S. green-card holder for their coverage of the Muslim population in Xinjiang. China detained people that had nothing to do with the reporting, they were merely related to American journalists reporting in Xinjiang. Where is the outcry for these poor souls, who are actually related to American citizens? They did nothing wrong. Where are the calls for investigation and discussions about sanctions on China?
Serena Shim was an American journalist who, in 2014, was killed in what appeared to be a staged car accident two days after Turkey’s Edrogan regime accused her of being a spy. Shortly before being accused of espionage, Shim uncovered evidence of ties between the Turkish government and the terror network, ISIS. There was ample evidence illustrating Turkey’s involvement in her death however, President Obama did absolutely nothing in retaliation. The international community and the United Nations did not take action and sanctions against Turkey were never discussed.
In fact under the Edrogan regime, Turkey has been one of the worst offenders when it comes to journalist oppression and censorship. Now, we are supposed to expect an honest investigation from the likes of Turkey? That would be akin to giving credibility to Russia’s investigation into the poisoning of Sergei Skripal.
Let’s not forget that Turkey has a vested interest in making Saudi Arabia a pariah in the Middle East, and hurting U.S./Saudi relations would prove invaluable in that endeavor. The Turkish government should not have anything to do with investigating this matter and any findings must be taken with a grain of salt. If they truly wanted a credible investigation, they would have handed it off to a country that is considered credible in the international community. The Edrogan regime is not considered a credible government in the eyes of the international community and allowing them to take part in the investigation certifies that corruption will be involved.
If we are going to pursue sanctions against Saudi Arabia for the disappearance of Khashoggi, then we should couple them with sanctions against every country that has recently imprisoned, tortured and or killed not only journalists but any human being for daring to use speech to criticize a government. So if we are going to pursue Saudi Arabia in this regard, we also need to pursue Russia, China, Turkey, Iran, Philippines, Eritrea, North Korea, Ethiopia, Azerbaijan, Vietnam, Myanmar, and Cuba.
Marco Rubio claims that the United States’ “moral credibility” is on the line with regard to an American response to the alleged Saudi involvement in Khashoggi’s disappearance. I ask Senator Rubio, where was the United States’ “moral credibility” when China detained the family members of American journalists less than one year ago? Or how about when Turkey killed an American journalist just four years ago? Or how about when any of the individuals listed throughout this article met their demise? Where was your call for a response in defense of America’s “moral credibility” then? Was our “moral credibility” not on the line when American journalists were killed or their families detained? Consistency, Senator Rubio, seems to have eluded you on this topic.
It might sound harsh but the life of a journalist, regardless of whether or not they write for the Washington Post, is not more important the life of an environmentalist, a photographer, a professor, a mason, a janitor, or any other human being for that matter. If that offends you, too bad. This is reality.
The world of geopolitics is much more complicated than claiming that the United States’ “moral credibility” is at stake with regard to retaliating for the disappearance of one individual. I realize this sounds very crude and harsh, but it’s the reality of our world. Do we want to sour the inroads we have made in the Middle East to punish Saudi Arabia for “accidentally” killing one of their defected citizens while conducting an interrogation? Because that is the report the Saudi’s are currently preparing.
At the time this piece was being written, Saudi Arabian officials were preparing a statement claiming that Khashoggi was accidentally killed while being interrogated. That leaves the United States in an impossible position to punish the Saudis for what they did to Khashoggi. After all, the United States was found to have “accidentally” killed numerous detainees during interrogations in Afghanistan around 2003. Are we to punish Saudi Arabia for actions that we have undertaken ourselves? What would that say about our “moral credibility” then, Senator Rubio? I assure you, Saudi Arabia’s claims for interrogating Khashoggi will easily rival our reasoning for performing extraordinary renditions on people throughout the world.
For example take the case of Khaled el-Masri, a German/Lebanese citizen who was kidnapped in Macedonia because his name was one letter away from a suspected terrorist’s name. The United States moved him off to a black site and performed enhanced interrogations on him for months. After finding out this was a case of mistaken identity, the CIA dropped him off on an Albanian hillside without any way to get home or even make a phone call.
A statement condemning the actions of Saudi Arabia as it pertains to Jamal Khashoggi is all that is needed, nothing more. They have stained their own credibility with regard to the international community and piling-on will only compel Saudi officials to make Americans pay for Saudi mistakes at the gas pumps. Our hearts go out to Khashoggi and his family while they endure this horrible chain of events, it shouldn’t have happened and it is wrong. However, American citizens en masse should not be forced to pay for Saudi Arabia’s actions. Strongly condemn the actions of Saudi Arabia with regard to Jamal Khashoggi and move on with business as usual.
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