L’Affair Khashoggi

Trump knows the Khashoggi – He bought Uncle Adnan’s super yacht, the Nabila back in the day.

And so our “ally” Saudi Arabia apparently murdered a Saudi journalist last week in their embassy in Istanbul.  A special team of 15 Saudis, including a forensics specialist flew into Istanbul the night before Jamal Khashoggi was scheduled for an appointment to visit the embassy and left the following evening.

He was filmed going in the front door and never seen again.

The Saudi’s first claimed he left the embassy.  When that story didn’t fly they switched to potentially a new one –  that he “accidently” died during “interrogation.”  The Saudis haven’t admitted it yet.  Waiting for the reaction to their new lie I guess.

How hard do you have to be interrogated to die “accidently?”  Tortured is more like it.  He didn’t die while answering questions over Turkish coffee.

Of course no one yet knows where his body is; undoubtedly flown out in a trunk with the special team back to Riyadh, probably never to be seen again.  No one will ever learn the cause of death.

Its getting to be a habit of authoritarian regimes to murder dissidents nowadays – North Korea, Russia and now Saudi Arabia.

So who was Jamal Khashoggi?

Jamal Khashoggi is/was one of the most prominent Saudi and Arab journalists and political commentators of his generation, owing to a career that has spanned nearly 30 years.

Born in Medina in 1958, Khashoggi was once close to the inner circles of the Saudi royal family, where he earned his reputation as a reformist by pushing the boundaries of critically questioning Saudi’s regional and domestic policies.

The young Khashoggi studied journalism at University of Indiana – he was not from a poor family.  More about them later.

At the same time he was a journalist he was also a media adviser to Prince Turki bin Faisal, who was the former head of Saudi Arabia’s General Intelligence Directorate and served as the Saudi ambassador to the US from 2005 until the end of 2006.

Following the rapid rise through the ranks of Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), Khashoggi lent his voice to call out the crown prince’s policies at home, particularly after promises of reform were followed by a wave of arrests and repression.

Princes, prominent businessmen, activists, and Muslim leaders were not spared from the crackdown, which was orchestrated by MBS.   Due to his candor, Khashoggi’s presence in the kingdom was becoming more precarious by the day and eventually he moved to Washington, DC, after revealing that he was “ordered to shut up”.

In the same month, he published an article with The Washington Post under the title “Saudi Arabia wasn’t always this repressive. Now it’s unbearable”.

Khashoggi shared it on Twitter and wrote, “I was not happy to publish this article on The Washington Post, but silence does not serve my country or those detained.”  The post earned the ire of Prince Khaled Al Saud, the governor of Mecca province, who criticized him on Twitter. “Our guided leadership does not need advice from you and your likes,” Saud shot back.

In his new role as opinions editor for The Washington Post, Khashoggi became more vocal about his criticism of MBS, likening him to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In a May 21 column for The Washington Post, he wrote: “We are expected to vigorously applaud social reforms and heap praise on the crown prince while avoiding any reference to the pioneering Saudis who dared to address these issues decades ago.

“We are being asked to abandon any hope of political freedom, and to keep quiet about arrests and travel bans that impact not only the critics but also their families.

In a September 2018 article titled “Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Must Restore Dignity to His Country – by Ending Yemen’s Cruel War” he urged the kingdom “to face the damage that resulted from more than three years of war in Yemen”.

He also wrote that Saudi Arabia “cannot afford to pick fights with Canada”, referring to a spat between the two countries over Canada’s criticism of human rights in the kingdom.

On October 2, Khashoggi flew to Istanbul and entered the Saudi consulate to obtain documents that would seal his marriage to his Turkish fiancee, Hatice Cengiz and was never heard from again.

Jamal Khashoggi was not just a wealthy and influential person in his own right; he was a member of a very prominent Saudi family.  He was the nephew of Adnan Khashoggi.

For those of you too young or too old to remember, Adnan Khashoggi was the world’s premier arms dealer in the 1970s and 80s, known for his lavish business deals and lifestyle.  He is estimated to have had a peak net worth of around US$4 billion in the early 1980s.

Adnan Khashoggi and his wife Lamia

Adnan was born in Mecca, the son of Mohammad Khashoggi, who was King Abdul Aziz Al Saud’s personal Court Physician.  His family is of Turkish origin.   Adnan Khashoggi’s sister was author Samira Khashoggi who married businessman Mohamed Al-Fayed and was the mother of Dodi Fayed, Princess Diana’s beau. Another sister, Soheir Khashoggi, is a is a well-known Arab writer (Mirage, Nadia’s Song, Mosaic).

Adnan was educated at Victoria College in Alexandria, Egypt and the American universities Cal State,  Ohio State, and Stanford. Khashoggi left his studies in order to seek his fortune in business.

Uncle Adnan’s private jet

He was famed as an arms dealer, brokering deals between US firms and the Saudi government, most actively in the 1960s and 1970s.  . Among his overseas clients were defense contractors Lockheed Corporation (now Lockheed Martin Corporation), Raytheon, Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation and Northrop Corporation (the last two of which have now merged into Northrop Grumman).

Adnan Khashoggi and his wife at the wedding of Donald Trump and Marla Maples in 1993.

Khashoggi was implicated in the Iran–Contra affair as a key middleman in the arms-for-hostages exchange along with Iranian arms dealer Manucher Ghorbanifar and, in a complex series of events, was found to have borrowed money for these arms purchases from the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI – since shut down by the Fed) with Saudi and United States backing.  His role in the affair created a related controversy when Khashoggi donated millions to the American University in Washington, DC to build a sports arena which would bear his name.   Khashoggi was a member of the university’s board of trustees from 1983 until his indictment on fraud and other charges in May 1989.

He was acquitted, along with Imelda Marcos of fraud charges but found guilty of obstruction of justice.

In the 1980s,  Adnan Khashoggi’s  family occupied one of the largest villa estates in Marbella, Spain, hosting lavish parties.  Guests at these parties included film stars, pop celebrities and politicians.  In 1985, celebrity reporter Robin Leach reported Khashoggi threw a five-day birthday party in Vienna for his eldest son, and in his heyday, Khashoggi spent $250,000 a day to maintain his lifestyle.

So you see, the Khashoggi are not nobodies – which makes the apparent murder of Jamal, undoubtedly at the order of the crown prince, even more startling.

The Saudi crown prince and de facto leader of Saudi Arabia, Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz al Saud (33), has cultivated an international reputation as a progressive reformer, claiming in particular to improve the lot of Saudi women.  . His March PR visit to the U.S. included a warm and fuzzy interview with Oprah, visits to Harvard and MIT, meetings with Donald Trump, Bill Clinton, Michael Bloomberg, Rupert Murdoch, and of course his friend Jared Kushner.

What is this young man’s record? In March 2011 during the Arab Spring, when the prince was already a senior advisor to his father the king, Saudi Arabia headed an intervention of Gulf states in Bahrain, to quell protests against the absolute monarch. (The great majority of Bahrainis are Shiites, while the king of Bahrain is Sunni. Riyadh views any advancement of Shiite rights and power in the region, both as an expression of heresy—against Sunni Islam—and as an expansion of Iranian Shiite influence.)

In June 2017 (after Mohammad had been made crown prince) Riyadh led an ongoing blockade of Qatar, mainly to punish it for its relatively cordial relations with Iran. That November Riyadh detained the Lebanese prime minister during a visit and forced his resignation (later retracted); this was an effort to punish him for his acceptance of the Hizbollah party in the Lebanese cabinet.

Since 2015 the Saudis have been bombing Yemen in an effort to dislodge the (Shiite) Houthi regime in Sanaa, claiming it’s a tool of Iran. Over 10,000 civilians have been killed and over three million people displaced; the Saudi school bus bombing in August killed 51 kids.

Trump has made it clear to the Saudi royals that he doesn’t care about their human rights record. The strict application of Sharia law, which he condemns everywhere else—the stonings for adultery, the gay men tossed off buildings, the crucifixions—is not an issue. All that’s the Saudis’ business, a matter of national sovereignty. And the Pentagon has made it clear that it will back the Saudi military effort in Yemen despite many reports of Saudi atrocities. MBS may feel he can act with impunity in the world and the U.S. president will have his back.

So much for our “beacon of the light and freedom in the world” bullshit.

.

 

About toritto

I was born during year four of the reign of Emperor Tiberius Claudius on the outskirts of the empire in Brooklyn. I married my high school sweetheart, the girl I took to the prom and we were together for forty years until her passing in 2004. We had four kids together and buried two together. I had a successful career in Corporate America (never got rich but made a living) and traveled the world. I am currently retired in the Tampa Bay metro area and live alone. One of my daughters is close by and one within a morning’s drive. They call their pops everyday. I try to write poetry (not very well), and about family. Occasionally I will try a historical piece relating to politics. :-)
This entry was posted in politics. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to L’Affair Khashoggi

  1. beetleypete says:

    Surely that’s the comedian Jackie Mason with Trump, Frank?
    I have seen him twice in London, so I am sure it’s him. 🙂
    I find it hard to have sympathy for any Saudi millionaire, but the fiasco in Turkey has surpassed my credibility levels.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. toritto says:

    Heehee! You’re right Pete! Damn search engines!!

    Thanks and besties !!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. toritto says:

    Pete – Fixed it! Thanks again!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.