Opinion
04 Dec 2018

The murder of Jamal Khashoggi -- Europe must do more

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's guilt in the killing of Jamal Khashoggi is becoming clearer every week. Europe has condemned the act, yet, according to foreign policy analyst Rula Jebreal, they can, and must, do more

Elizabeth Walsh
Elizabeth Walsh International Producer, Europe
The murder of Jamal Khashoggi -- Europe must do more - NewsMavens
Protest in front of the Consulate General of Saudi Arabia in Istanbul following the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, WikiMedia Commons

The evidence that Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, ordered the brutal killing of Jamal Khashoggi continues to mount.

Just days ago, a leak from the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) revealed that Mohammed bin Salman, known as “MBS”, had at least 11 message exchanges with a top aid while that aid was overseeing the hit team that strangled and dismembered the Washington Post journalist with a bone saw. Yet, despite the murder of a US resident, it remains unclear whether the United States will act.

Several weeks ago, the CIA concluded that MBS was responsible for Khashoggi’s murder on 2 October at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, where he was trying to obtain documentation for his marriage to Turkish fiancée, Hatice Cengiz.

President Trump’s response?

“America First!”

“We may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi. In any case, our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. They have been a great ally in our very important fight against Iran,” read the statement.

As a matter of fact, the story is becoming clearer every day. CIA director Gina Haspel is expected to give a private briefing to senators today (December 4), while a bipartisan resolution to end American support for the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen looms in Congress.

But don’t hold your breath for the US will stop funding what the United Nations says is the world’s largest humanitarian crisis. So far, Republicans have proven spineless against Donald Trump, who, according to foreign policy analyst Rula Jebreal, is complicit with MBS.

“We need public outcry from Europe,” Jebreal told me over the phone on Friday. “If the world will allow Mohammed bin Salman to get away with this murder, they will be enabling another Saddam Hussein on steroids.”

Jebreal, who is also a journalist, knew Jamal Khashoggi and published her final interviews with the former Saudi journalist and once advisor to the kingdom in a cover story for Newsweek shortly after he was killed.

According to Jebreal, the Saudi Crown Prince’s consolidation of power is “undermining Europe’s national security.”

“If populist, nationalistic movements are on the rise in Europe, there’s a reason for that -- it’s the refugee crisis, the radicalization, the war on terror -- so if you want to defeat nationalists, start by understanding the root cases,” she said. “And the root causes are [...] the behaviors of people like Mohammed bin Salman.”

It’s not just the brutal assassination of Khashoggi or the devastating war in Yemen. While Saudi Arabia was enjoying global applause for lifting its antiquated and sexist driving ban on women, it was also locking up the very women who fought for that right. And now it’s torturing them: just weeks ago, Amnesty International released a report documenting the torture and sexual abuse of women activists.

And Jebreal is worried that things will get worse.

“There’s always a backlash, [from] these tyrants [and] despots who are engaged in human rights violations,” she warned.

That backlash could become a major threat to Europe’s security. Two weeks ago, Jebreal visited several European capitals where she helped coordinate hearings on Saudi Arabia’s human rights abuses and served as an advisor to committees working with the European Parliament. In addition to witnessing “embarrassed” officials who were expressing regret for a record of support for the Saudi Crown Prince, Jebreal noted a growing alarm over international security.

“The byproducts of Mohammed bin Salman’s policies are a huge amount of refugees, huge amounts of radicals around the world, huge amounts of people who are willing to believe terrorists because there’s no redress to their grievances,” she explained.

“If you think that this kind of oppressive behavior will not lead to radicalization, then you’ve been in a coma for the last twenty years.”

In October, the European Parliament passed a resolution condemning Khashoggi’s killing and urging an embargo from all European nations on the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia — the world’s largest weapons importer. So far, Denmark, Germany, Finland, and the Netherlands have halted sales to the country. The United Kingdom and Spain have yet to follow suit.

But France is far and beyond the biggest European exporter of weapons to Saudi Arabia and comes second only to the United States (the United Kingdom used to be Europe’s top exporter but is now behind France). From 2008 to 2017, deals between the two countries amounted to more than $11 billion Euros. Last year alone, licenses worth a potential $14.7 billion euros to Saudi were approved.

At the G20 summit in Buenos Aires last Friday, French President Emmanuel Macron met face to face with the Crown Prince for the first time since Jamal Khashoggi was murdered.

“Don’t worry,” MBS can be heard saying in a video clip.

“I am worried,” Macron replied. At the end of the clip, he warned, “I am a man of my word.”

With the French president yet to respond to calls to halt the sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia, it is still unclear just exactly what word it is that Emmanuel Macron intends to keep.

“I hope [Emmanuel Macron] will take a stand, because it’s a stand with humanity, it’s a stand about the rule of law, it’s a stand about national security,” urged Jebreal.

“Europe’s own national security depends on how we handle Mohammed bin Salman.”

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial stance.

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