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Monday, October 22, 2018 

What the case of Kashoggi can tell about the Saudis, and about himself

Hugh Fitzgerald wrote on Front Page Magazine about the Saudi murder of journalist Jamal Kashoggi, who, as noted further down the post, has a very dark side to himself as well:
But let’s get back to what this killing demonstrates. It demonstrates that Saudi Arabia has only contempt for the outside world, and no intention of changing its brutal ways no matter what others think. All sorts of Western big shots have now pulled out of the “Davos in the Desert” three-day economic summit to be held in Saudi Arabia in early November. Among them are Richard Branson, the CEO’s of Viacom and Uber, the heads of JP Morgan, Blackstone, BlackRock, the owner of the Los Angeles Times, the creator of the Android Mobile Device, the creator of Crispr, and many others. This will have little effect on the Saudis. If Western companies want to engage in virtue-signaling, and lose billions in investments, both in and from Saudi Arabia, the Crown Prince can live with that. Besides, there is always China, ready to sell weapons to the Saudis (as Trump has noted), and to make, and receive, Saudi investments.

The killing may, however, have a salutary effect on the American government’s view of Saudi Arabia. The Saudis were largely protected during the investigation of the 9/11 attacks; 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudis, but through it all, Saudi Arabia remained our “friend” and ally. They sold us their oil at the market price, doing us no favors, but because Saudi Arabia was the “swing” producer, and when, purely for reasons of economic self-interest, the Saudis raised or lowered production so as to lower or raise the price of oil, we were always naively grateful. The Saudis have a stake not just in current oil revenues, but in maximizing the value of the billions of barrels they have in the ground. They are not doing us favors. They calculate their ideal price for oil, at any time, based on the likely effect on consumers, who may switch to other sources of energy, and on energy producers, who if the price is high enough may search for new oil supplies or extract oil already found, using innovative techniques. The Saudis cannot forget fracking, and what that did to oil prices.[...]

The killing of Jamal Khashoggi reminds us that the Saudi rulers, and the Crown Prince, are well-versed in the use of violence. They are determined to keep themselves in power, and to keep the colossal wealth to which they help themselves. The 15,000 Saudi royals are collectively worth $1.7 trillion; they are not about to let go of any of it. Jamal Khashoggi, though not a royal, began life as well-connected as any commoner in Saudi Arabia could be. His grandfather was the personal physician to King Abdelaziz Al Saud. His uncle was Adnan Khashoggi, who through his connections in the Saudi government made $4 billion dollars as an arms dealer. His cousin was Dodi Fayed, Princess Diana’s last boyfriend, and the son of the billionaire businessman Mohamed Fayed.
But lest anybody think Kashoggi's loss is truly bad news, it's advisable to take a look at his own MO:
By 2017, Khashoggi, who had two million Twitter followers, was the best known pundit in the Arab world. He has been hailed in the West as a progressive, but that is a case of misunderstanding his aims. Khashoggi believed in spreading Islamic rule, the same goal as that of any Jihadi, but he wanted to achieve that goal through political Islam. He joined the Muslim Brotherhood in the 1970s and remained true to it, even praising it in a Washington Post column. Some described him as the de facto leader of the Saudi branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. The Crown Prince, on the other hand, believes that the Muslim Brotherhood is a danger to the Kingdom, that is, to his family’s continued rule.
Precisely, it's not because the MB believe in sharia rulership. And it's bad news that Kashoggi supported the MB, which puts his support for women fighting for the right to drive cars in Arabia under a question mark. The Jerusalem Post also notes that:
Khashoggi was once a powerful insider in Saudi Arabia, an adviser to the kingdom who helped craft its image abroad. However he became increasingly disillusioned with the path chosen by Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman after MBS rose to power in 2017. Khashoggi was particularly critical of Riyadh’s approach to the Muslim Brotherhood and political Islam. He felt the crackdown on more Islamist views was problematic. He also voiced consistent critique of the rumors that the kingdom was growing closer to Israel. He told Al Jazeera in November that Saudi Arabia should return to its role as a leader of the Arab world. “He deplored the authorities’ decision to allow some in the Saudi news media to express support for Israel against the Palestinians,” the article noted.
Honestly, if that's what he believed, then he's not somebody to feel sorry for, any more than the Saudis themselves now that the west is turning against them. It's decidedly time to isolate them from civil society until they're willing to abandon Islam.

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