Saudi Atrocities: Will the Next US Administration/Congress Take a Stand?
It has been two years since Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman and members of the Saudi government were brought to justice for the barbaric murder of Saudi journalist and US resident Jamal Khashoggi. Yet to this day, full disclosure surrounding the torturous killing and location of the victim’s body has not been revealed.
What is extremely important about this case? The answer lies in what the next U.S. administration under President Biden may do regarding this crime and other committed atrocities. For the first time in the last four years, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) will find itself on equal footing with the new White House Administration.
This comes on the heels of the President elect’s consideration of Mike Morell as a top contender (among others) for the Director of the CIA. Morell, who was deputy director of the CIA under President Barack Obama and twice served as the agency's Acting Director, is very likely Biden’s choice for the full-time role. However, Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, a key Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, has warned Mr. Biden to not nominate Morell because of his record as a "torture apologist”. Sen Wyden argues, "No torture apologist can be confirmed as the CIA director. It's a nonstarter." His reference is to Morell's previous suggestions that the agency's "enhanced interrogation" of terrorists was both effective and moral. Such claims go further than from other officials who have faced scrutiny over the agency's handling of detainees at “black sites”, such as former Director John Brennan and current Director Gina Haspel.
The question before us is whether the Biden administration will have the will and determination to confront the Saudis over their atrocities. This includes not only the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, but also ongoing war crimes in Yemen. The fact that Saudi Arabia has managed to avoid any real consequences for its abhorrent crimes exposes the hypocrisy of human rights discourse by many governments, including the United States, who continue to roll out the red carpet for the desert Kingdom.
While many breathe a sigh of relief that the Trump administration will soon end, we should not be overly optimistic that the Biden administration would turn things around overnight. The question is whether the dysfunctional US Congress will do anything regarding the Saudi atrocities.
Similarly, the case of Saad al-Jabri, a former Saudi intelligence officer and advisor to former Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, raised serious concerns at how the Saudi government is harassing his family who still live in the Kingdom in order to pressure him to return. Recently, it was reported that Khaled al-Jabri, Saad al-Jabri's son, stated that Saudi security forces arrested members of Al-Jabri’s family to humiliate and blackmail his father. It is, in my opinion, an attempt by MBS to interfere in the course of the US judiciary.
Once thing is clear: when it comes to the cases of Jamal Khashoggi and Saad al-Jabri, there is an agreement between the next administration, the Congress, and the CIA that Saudi Arabia’s out of control behavior and recent atrocities poses a threat to U.S. national security. If I were an advisor for a day, I would advise the next administration to focus on three things: the Saudi oil sector, the Kingdom's nuclear plans, and a proposal for a complete halt of US intelligence support in Yemen.
As argued in my book, Beneath the Veil: Fall of the House of Saud, the inevitable demise of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is not fiction. It is reality that requires the undivided attention of diplomats, intelligence officers, foes, investors, weapon dealers, energy analysts, and the Chinese. It also requires the undivided attention of the Saudi commoner who wonders whether his life has any meaning. Also, the Saudi citizen who questions why the Al-Saud have to cater to his needs from cradle to grave.
The West continues to shower the Saudis with endless praise and admiration, which does nothing for the Saudis but inflate their egos and infect them with the ancient Greek disease of hubris.
Undoubtedly, the future of Saudi Arabia depends greatly on the U.S. providing security for the Monarchy. Saudi Arabia fully understands that its survival in a tough neighborhood that has no love for, but only animosity toward, the Kingdom depends greatly on its ability to keep peace with its neighbors. To navigate those dangerous waters, the Saudi government has to create an enemy, real or perceived (depending on Al-Saud’s pick of the day), as part of its survival mechanism.
That outcome contributes to a society that is unaware of the danger that lies ahead due to MbS’s dictatorial governing style. Even worse yet is that President Trump has neglected to mention the massive scale of unjustified arrests and disappearances of citizens resulting from the Saudi government’s recent campaign.
Yes, US-Saudi relations will survive but only because some officials in Washington put self-interest, ego, and self-worth before the welfare of the United States. US-Saudi relations will survive but only because America has corrupt politicians in power who lack the ethical resolve to speak the truth. However, it is my duty to inform my fellow citizens and throughout the world that the US-Saudi relationship will not last forever.
Even long-lasting relationships eventually end, and everyone must be ready when that day comes.