UNITED STATES The United States should “demand answers” from Saudi Arabia about the disappearance and alleged killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, The Washington Post said late Sunday and punish the kingdom if cooperation is lacking.
Khashoggi, a contributor to the Post who has been critical of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, vanished after an appointment with Saudi officials on Tuesday at the consulate in Istanbul.
A Turkish government source has said that police believe the journalist was murdered a claim denied by Riyadh.
“The United States must now make a concerted effort to determine all the facts about Mr Khashoggi’s disappearance,” the Post said in an editorial, imploring Washington to “demand answers, loud and clear.”
Noting that President Donald Trump has treated Prince Mohammed as a “favored ally”, the newspaper said the kingdom now should reciprocate with information about Khashoggi’s whereabouts.
“If the crown prince does not respond with full cooperation, Congress must, as a first step, suspend all military cooperation with the kingdom,” the Post said.
The newspaper called on Turkey to reveal any evidence that it has about Khashoggi’s alleged murder, and to “spare no avenue to investigate”.
It also said that Riyadh should explain the presence of about 15 Saudi nationals, some of them officials, who traveled to Istanbul and were at the consulate at the same time as Khashoggi.
“We are hoping against hope that Mr Khashoggi is unharmed and will soon return to his writing desk,” the Post said.
“If the reports of his murder prove true, grief must be accompanied by accountability for those who carried out the murder and those who ordered it.”
Khashoggi, 59, is a former government advisor who has criticised some of Prince Mohammed’s policies and Riyadh’s intervention in the yemen.
Who is Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi?
Jamal Khashoggi is 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 Indiana University in the United States and began his career as a correspondent for the English language Saudi Gazette newspaper.
From 1987 until 1990, he reported for the London-based and Saudi-owned Asharq Al-Awsat daily. He also spent eight years writing for the pan-Arab Al-Hayat newspaper.
Khashoggi is best known for coverage of the events of Afghanistan, Algeria, Kuwait and the Middle East in the 1990s. He met and interviewed Osama bin Laden several times in the middle of the decade, before the latter went on to become the leader of the al-Qaeda group.
In 1999, Khashoggi became the deputy editor for the Saudi-run newspaper Arab News, and remained in that position for four years. His next position as the editor-in-chief of the Al-Watan paper barely lasted two months before he was dismissed from the post without explanation in 2003. However, some hinted his “editorial policy” was to blame.
The journalist then became 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.
Khashoggi was reinstated as the editor of Al-Watan in 2007, but was fired again in 2010, for “pushing the boundaries of debate within Saudi society” according to his personal website.
In the same year, Khashoggi was appointed as general manager of the Al Arab news channel, which was owned by Prince Alwaleed bin Talal and operated out of Manama, Bahrain. The channel shut down barely one day after its launch in February 2015, with some speculating that the hosting of a Bahraini opposition member was part of the larger editorial issue with Bahrain.
Khashoggi also served as a political commentator, appearing on a number of Saudi and Arab channels.
‘ORDERED TO SHUT UP’
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.
Khashoggi continued to write, and advocate for freedom of speech in his country, and in September 2017 he criticised the classification of the Muslim Brotherhood as terrorists by Saudi Arabia.
In a post on Twitter, he wrote: “For a while now, I have found that anyone who believes in reform, change, the Arab Spring, and freedom, and those who are proud of their religion and their country is labelled as being part of the Muslim Brotherhood. It seems that the Brotherhood’s school of thought is noble.”
Due to his candour, 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 criticised him on Twitter. “Our guided leadership does not need advice from you and your likes,” Saud shot back.
A few months later, in December, Al-Hayat newspaper ended its relationship with him and banned his writings, citing Khashoggi’s perceived “transgressions against Saudi Arabia”.
CRITIQUING SAUDI POLICIES
During his stay in Washington, DC, he participated in many activities to defend freedoms and rights.
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.
Khashoggi also called out MBS’ “impulsivity” as displayed in the debacle of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s forced resignation from Riyadh (once back in Beirut, Hariri retracted his notice) to Saudi’s role in the Yemen war.
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”.
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