The Saudi Arabia government has finally admitted that Jamal Khashoggi, a US resident and journalist, was killed inside their Turkish consulate. However, they left many questions unanswered, including the whereabouts of Khashoggi’s body. The Saudis claim that Khashoggi’s death was a result of a fistfight but have not offered any real evidence to substantiate that claim.
Many officials around the world, including, surprisingly, some Republicans on Capitol Hill, have expressed skepticism about the Saudis’ explanation. Some believe that Khashoggi’s death was the result of an interrogation gone wrong or was a deliberate, planned murder, considering Khashoggi was critical of the Saudi government.
One person who hasn’t expressed doubts about the Saudi version of events is President Trump, who recently said that he believed the Saudis but noted that the U.S. hasn’t finished its own investigation. Trump has also previously repeated the Saudi line that they had no involvement in or knowledge of Khashoggi’s death. Sen. Richard Blumenthal criticized the president, saying that he was helping the Saudis with their coverup.
Trump’s reluctance to go against Saudi Arabia is not exclusive of him or his administration. For almost eight decades, the U.S. has ignored the negative actions and bad behavior of Saudi Arabia. This is in part because the Persian Gulf nation has been a willing ally to the U.S. For one, they have given the U.S. military critical geographic outposts for many operations. And second, of course, they have been a major source of oil. In years past, U.S. administrations have also seen Saudi Arabia has an ally against communism. And even more recently, the Bush administration considered the country has a partner in the fight against terrorism.
Currently, the Trump administration views Saudi Arabia as a crucial ally in their Middle East peace plan and a key partner when it comes to isolating and punishing Iran. Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, has a close relationship with Prince Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud.
Regardless of political party, U.S. officials have often ignored the human right abuses committed by Saudi Arabia. The current administration has so far refused to denounce Saudi Arabia over their tactics and involvement in the Yemen War. What is clear is that if the U.S. continues to ignore these human rights abuses, then Saudi Arabia and other countries will continue to commit them. It is up to American citizens to push their government to make foreign policy focus on human rights over alliances of convenience.