Why the White House Should Demand Answers about Jamal Khashoggi

Oct. 12 2018

On October 2, the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi went to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to fill out some routine paperwork; he hasn’t been seen since. Rumors and reports have meanwhile circulated that he was either murdered or smuggled out of the country and taken to a Saudi prison in retaliation for his public criticisms of Riyadh. But nothing is known for certain. Varsha Koduvayur writes:

Saudi Arabia has previously targeted dissidents living abroad. Indeed, three princes living in Europe that were critical of the government disappeared in 2015-2016. Khashoggi, while not royal, was undeniably close to power centers. As an outspoken critic from within the kingdom’s elite—he was a consummate insider, having served as an adviser to the royal family—the regime may have viewed him as a voice that would not be ignored.

Saudi-Turkey tensions are now escalating. . . . President Recep Tayyip Erdogan demanded that Saudi Arabia provide video footage to prove that Khashoggi left the facility. . . . Oddly, Turkey now seems to be de-escalating its rhetoric after initially stirring the pot. . . . Though the two states are political rivals, they are usually keen to shun public spats. Still, Ankara could expel the Saudi ambassador to Turkey over this, prompting tit-for-tat measures from Riyadh. The ensuing diplomatic crisis would drag the U.S. into the midst of a nasty dispute between a NATO ally and one of its closest Middle Eastern allies, potentially forcing Washington to pick a side. . . .

The U.S. may have robust relations with Saudi Arabia, but that doesn’t absolve Washington of its responsibility to safeguard journalists worldwide. Press freedom has hit a nadir in the Middle East. And now the irony that Turkey, a serial jailer of journalists, is opening a probe into a missing Saudi journalist—while itself possessing a terrible record on this front—should not escape anyone. . . .

Khashoggi’s fate remains unclear. But his disappearance is certainly a fact. And it took place in a Saudi diplomatic facility—sovereign Saudi soil. There is no evidence either to absolve or to implicate Riyadh in the matter, [and] it is difficult to trust either Turkey’s or Saudi Arabia’s official version of accounts, given the former’s penchant for disinformation and the latter’s multiple explanations. . . . The State Department and White House should demand answers from the Saudis over the whereabouts of Khashoggi, and pressure both Ankara and Riyadh to publicize evidence.

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More about: Politics & Current Affairs, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, U.S. Foreign policy

 

Nikki Haley Succeeded at the UN Because She Saw It for What It Is

Oct. 15 2018

Last week, Nikki Haley announced that she will be stepping down as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations at the end of the year. When President Trump appointed her to the position, she had behind her a successful tenure as governor of South Carolina, but no prior experience in foreign policy. This, writes Seth Lispky, turned out to have been her greatest asset:

What a contrast [Haley provided] to the string of ambassadors who fell on their faces in the swamp of Turtle Bay. That’s particularly true of the two envoys under President Barack Obama. [The] “experienced” hands who came before her proceeded to fail. Their key misconception was the notion that the United Nations is part of the solution to the world’s thorniest problems. Its charter was a vast treaty designed by diplomats to achieve “peace,” “security,” and “harmony.”

What hogwash.

Haley, by contrast, may have come in without experience—but that meant she also lacked for illusions. What a difference when someone knows that they’re in a viper pit—that the UN is itself the problem. And has the gumption to say so.

This became apparent the instant Haley opened her first press conference, [in which she said of the UN’s obsessive fixation on condemning the Jewish state]: “I am here to say the United States will not turn a blind eye to this anymore. I am here to underscore the ironclad support of the United States for Israel. . . . I am here to emphasize that the United States is determined to stand up to the UN’s anti-Israel bias.”

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More about: Nikki Haley, U.S. Foreign policy, United Nations, US-Israel relations