THE KHASHOGGI AFFAIR
By Carol Rushton
For weeks, the Western media has been engrossed in the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi, sometime journalist and a critic of the government of Saudi Arabia, who entered the Saudi embassy in Istanbul, Turkey to obtain a marriage certificate to marry his fiancé and was never seen again. Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s incessant accusations that the Saudi government murdered Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate finally led to the Saudis finally admitting the Khashoggi murder and rounding up a number of what are probably scapegoats the Saudi royal family will punish. The ones who ordered Khashoggi’s execution will probably never face a day in prison, much less a trial.
After more and more evidence emerged surrounding the circumstances of Khashoggi’s demise, the West including the United States joined President Erdogan’s condemnation of the Saudi government, the Saudi royal family specifically. The U.S. is currently reconsidering allowing Lockheed Martin to finalize a $15 billion deal with the Saudis for their Thaad air-defense system because of Khashoggi murder and the resulting cover-up.
Far be it from me to defend the Saudi government in this matter. The Saudi royal family has brutally suppressed their citizens for years. Saudi Arabia has had a horrible human rights record through the years. A human rights report for the year 2017 from the U.S. State Department states that Saudi Arabia is guilty of “unlawful killings, including execution for other than the most serious offenses and without requisite due process; torture; arbitrary arrest and detention, including of lawyers, human rights activists, and anti-government reformists; political prisoners. . .” and the list goes on and on and on (U.S. State Department, “Saudi Arabia 2017 Human Rights Report,” https://www.state.gov/documents/organization/277507.pdf, accessed November 22, 2017).
For example, in Saudi Arabia, if anyone is convicted of being a thief, their hand is cut off. If a woman is convicted of adultery she is publicly executed. This is no tall tale from One Thousand and One Arabian Nights. In 1978, the Saudi government confirmed that they had killed Princess Misha Abdul Aziz and her boyfriend the previous year for adultery. These offenses are all punishable under Islamic Law. But all this has been known by our government and presidents for decades, as well as by the leaders of European countries. Now the entire world is outraged about the Saudis murdering people? Please.
Don’t get me wrong, No one should walk into any embassy or consulate in the entire world and be murdered in any form or fashion. However, Turkey isn’t exactly a paragon of virtue when it comes to human rights, either. Didn’t the U.S. just spend two years trying to obtain the release of an American pastor from a Turkish prison on trumped up charges of terrorism? Providence Magazine carried an article on May 3, 2018, by Aykan Erdemir and Deniz Yuksel detailing Turkey’s long list of human rights violations. “US State Department Report Exposes Turkey’s Human Rights Abuses” reveals that Turkey is no better than the Saudis when it comes to oppressing their citizens.
The United States State Department released a report on April 20 detailing significant human rights abuses in Turkey, including the torture of detainees, forced disappearances, arbitrary arrests, and the detention of “tens of thousands” of individuals, including members of parliament as well as US consular staff in Turkey . . . The surge in abuses are a direct result of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s increasing authoritarianism and turn to brutish methods in the aftermath of a failed coup attempt in July 2016.
For almost two years, Erdogan has kept in place a state of emergency enabling him to rule by decree and trample on civil rights. To crush opposition, he has carried out a massive purge resulting in the dismissal of more than 100,000 civil servants and the arrest of over 50,000 individuals. As the State Department observes, Ankara fosters impunity by failing to investigate, prosecute, and punish the perpetrators of human rights abuses . . .
The State Department’s report said prosecutors are using blanket accusations of terrorism, incitement or insulting the president to silence a broad range of critical voices including activists, journalists, academics, and politicians, mainly from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP). These cases are often based on spotty evidence and feature an absence of due process, including attorney-client privilege . . . (emphasis mine)
Turkey is violating the rights of journalists? You don’t say!
I recently met a woman whose husband worked for NATO in the 1970s. They were stationed in Turkey for two years. The woman said that even back then they had to hide the fact that they were Christians. For instance, they were warned that they could not openly celebrate Christmas. They had to put their Christmas tree in a room that could not be seen from a window. During this time, the woman also said that two American soldiers were brutally murdered in cold blood in the streets of the Turkish city where they lived.
To top it off, American and European forces are currently fighting the Turks in Syria. So far, they have killed two American soldiers, one in 2016 and one in March of this year. Sounds like the pot is calling the kettle black.
So what is really going on? Why is Turkey displaying this faux outrage over the Saudi government murdering someone when Turkey is just as guilty?
In order to understand why Turkey is supposedly so upset at Khashoggi’s murder, you have to understand some of the dynamics of the Middle East and the power struggle between the different Islamic countries in the region.
Kemal Ataturk founded the modern republic of Turkey as a secular Islamic state in the 1920s. While Ataturk may have had good intentions, it is impossible to have a secular country based upon Islam. The tenants of Islam constitute a theocracy and will eventually overthrow a secular state. This is what has happened in Turkey.
It wasn’t always this way. In the 1990s, Turkey and Israel conducted joint military operations on a regular basis. Israelis flocked to Turkey for vacations: It was close, cheap, clothes too expensive to buy in Israel were very reasonable in Turkey, and Jews were treated decently. Not any more. Islam’s increased influence on the population after Ataturk’s death has resulted in Turkey eventually electing a radical Islamic leader who is basically now ruling as a de facto dictator.
Turkey’s President Erdogan has aligned his country with Iran, a country extremely hostile to Israel and the US (I interpret crowds shouting “Death to Israel” and “Death to the US” as being extremely hostile) and a well-known sponsor of terrorist groups in the Middle East, including Hamas and Hezbollah, as well as the Houthis who have taken over Yemen on Saudi Arabia’s southern border. Iran is in the process of conquering Iraq which no one is talking about now. Our former President Barak Obama decided to allow Iran to help us fight ISIS in Iraq, a huge mistake. Iran was never going to leave Iraq once they were inside. Now Iran is in control of large portions of Iraq, with Iranian military forces being able to move freely through Iraq to Syria and back. With Iranian military outposts established in Syria, Saudi Arabia must be feeling surrounded and threatened by Iran and its proxies.
Don’t forget that the Iranians are also Shi’ites. The Saudis are Sunnis and have been one of the few Arab/Islamic allies the US has in the Middle East. The Sunnis and Shi’ites, two different branches of Islam, have literally been at each other’s throats for hundreds of years. They both would love to kill the other one off – and I mean actually eradicate and annihilate the other party. The only thing that Sunnis and Shi’ites have been able to unite on through the years is their hatred for Israel and the Jews – at least until recently.
If Iran had murdered an Iranian journalist critical of their government in their embassy in Turkey, Turkey would have had no problem with it. Turkey would defend Iran to the hilt and come up with various scenarios to explain what had happened, no matter how implausible or ridiculous they sounded to us. Turkey’s condemnation of Saudi Arabia is simply an attempt to weaken the Saudi government and eventually cause the downfall and removal of the Saudi royal family so that Iran can either take over the country openly or install a puppet government like the one they have in Yemen and will probably soon have in Iraq.
Part of the reason for the Saudi royal family allowing the gradual Westernization of their kingdom – they recently allowed women to drive cars and to vote in local elections – is to try to forestall a civil war in their country. Khashoggi was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, the same terrorist group who murdered Egyptian President Anwar Sadat after he signed a peace treaty with Israel and who briefly ruled Egypt during the “Arab Spring” until they were ousted by Abdel el-Sisi, former commander of the Egyptian military. Khashoggi was no defender of freedom and liberty. The Saudis had a bird’s eye view of what happened to Egypt under the Muslim Brotherhood. They could not allow that to happen in their country.
I honestly don’t know how big a threat Khashoggi was in fomenting civil unrest in Saudi Arabia that would have resulted in a coup or civil war. But the Saudi royal family obviously felt he was a huge threat or they would never have ordered his execution. On a recent program on Prophecy Watchers, Avi Lipkin stated that 90% of the Saudi people hate the royal family and supported Khashoggi. Avi concluded that although what the Saudi royal family did was despicable, this is normal behavior among Muslims in the Middle East, and it is in the best interests of the United States to keep the Saudi royal family in power.
I know this sounds very distasteful to Americans. I’m not exactly thrilled about it, either. But the Middle East is a totally different region, and except for Israel, is ruled overwhelmingly by brutal kings and dictators. The typical Middle Easterner views Western civilization and culture, which we value highly, with scorn and disdain. Arab/Islamic countries in the Middle East view Americans as weak and easily manipulated. If you are going to be a leader of an Arab/Islamic country in the Middle East, you have to be ruthless in order to survive. And the Saudi royal family wants to survive.
Sometimes, American presidents are faced with situations in which there are no good options, and this is one of them. While I hate to admit it, Avi is right. If the Saudi royal family is deposed, the US is in big trouble.