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The legal challenges against Saudi Arabia must continue

When Jamal Khashoggi and I worked together, I remember asking him about the infamous purge orchestrated by Mohammed bin Salman in 2017, when he detained scores of princes, other members of the royal family and wealthy Saudi businessmen at the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton. At the time, the crown prince framed the arrests as a crackdown on high-level corruption.

Jamal said he supported reigning in the corruption that had been a massive drain on Saudi economic development. “Still, shouldn’t there be trials?” I asked. I argued that was the best way to get the rest of the world to have confidence in doing business in Saudi Arabia.…  Seguir leyendo »

We have been deprived of Jamal Khashoggi’s voice

Two years ago, I believed I was embarking soon on one of the happiest days of my life. But today, I am writing this in memory of a tragic day that should not be forgotten by anyone — the day my fiance, Jamal Khashoggi, entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul and was brutally murdered.

Over the past two years, I have had to deal with the pain and disappointment that those who committed this heinous crime and killed an innocent man in the most brutal way, and those who ordered this monstrosity, remain unprosecuted and unpunished. Starting with United States, most of the governments of the world have done nothing to push forward this case.…  Seguir leyendo »

Un manifestante sostuvo un póster con una fotografía de Jamal Khashoggi afuera del consulado de Arabia Saudita en Estambul el 25 de octubre. Credit Osman Orsal/Reuters

En mayo me invitaron a viajar a Washington para asistir a algunas audiencias en el congreso. Había imaginado la ciudad gracias a lo que me había contado sobre ella mi prometido, Jamal Khashoggi. La visita me dejó con el sentimiento alarmante de que su recuerdo se desvanecía en la ciudad que él evocaba tan amorosamente.

Cuando conocí a Jamal en Estambul, él había estado viviendo y trabajando en Washington durante más de un año, después de haber dejado su casa en Arabia Saudita en medio de una campaña violenta en contra de intelectuales y activistas.

Después de comprometernos, y mientras planeábamos nuestra nueva vida juntos en Washington, Jamal hablaba con gran calidez acerca de la ciudad, sus museos y sus mercados.…  Seguir leyendo »

Khashoggi, el caleidoscopio

Es imposible no exaltarse por la desaparición de Jamal Khashoggi, ocurrida en Estambul el pasado 2 de octubre. Pero no sabemos por qué faceta abordarla, ya que es muy compleja y ofrece muchas lecciones. Empecemos por la torpeza de los asesinos: han acumulado tantos errores que nos parece asistir a una película fracasada. Pero estos errores son indicativos del régimen político que los envió a Estambul. Los dictadores, que no escuchan a nadie, son los más propensos a cometer errores: en 1804 Napoleón mandó secuestrar en Alemania al duque de Enghien al sospechar, equivocadamente, que conspiraba contra él. El secuestro despertó la indignación de los tribunales europeos, y Talleyrand, ministro de Asuntos Exteriores de Napoleón, le dijo: «Señor, más que un crimen, es un error».…  Seguir leyendo »

La primera lección del alucinante caso Khashoggi es que la realidad tiene, definitivamente, más imaginación que la ficción. ¿Qué John le Carré, Somerset Maugham o Gérard de Villiers hubiera podido imaginar un escenario tan atroz e improbable? O, ¿en qué novela de espionaje se ha visto al soberano de un país con ambición mundial decapitar, en uno de sus consulados, a un opositor porque le estorbaba?

Y, qué decir de estas preguntas que nos acechan, porque, aunque son reales, parecerían un sinsentido en una película de terror: ¿Le cortaron los dedos antes que la cabeza?, ¿lo habían colgaron incluso antes?, ¿lo estrangularon?,…  Seguir leyendo »

El brutal asesinato de Jamal Khashoggi, el periodista saudí que desapareció en el consulado de su país en Estambul hace dos semanas, ilustra, no ya la barbarie de Arabia Saudí (de sobra conocida), sino la desintegración moral de la Casa Blanca.

Desde la llegada de Donald Trump a la presidencia de Estados Unidos, los baremos éticos de la acción política en este país se han ido desplomando en la impunidad. Las acciones de Trump, fiel reflejo de su misoginia, racismo, desprecio y brutal ignorancia, se sustentan en el apoyo de su base de voto (ni siquiera mayoritaria, puesto que perdió las elecciones de 2016 por casi tres millones de votos y se impuso a su adversaria por la peculiar naturaleza del sistema norteamericano), blanca, de clase media-baja, patriotera, de ideología ultraderechista bastante primaria y afincada en el centro del país.…  Seguir leyendo »

Trump, durante su visita a Arabia Saudí.

Cuenta Woodward en su último libro, significativamente titulado Fear, o sea 'Miedo', que durante las reuniones preparatorias del viaje oficial a Arabia Saudí, con el que Trump inició su política exterior, hubo un momento de estancamiento.

Que un presidente norteamericano eligiera Riad como su primer destino, tenía que tener rédito económico. Se hablaba de un megacontrato de venta de armas, pero los saudíes no movían su cifra de inversión.

"Voy a hacer una llamada telefónica", dijo entonces Jared Kushner, yerno y asesor de Trump, al director para Oriente Medio del Consejo Nacional de Seguridad, Derek Harvey. Kushner marcó un número de Riad y habló con su "amigo" en la corte saudí.…  Seguir leyendo »

A protestor holds a picture of missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi during a demonstration in front of the Saudi Arabian consulate, on October 5, 2018 in Istanbul. - Jamal Khashoggi, a veteran Saudi journalist who has been critical towards the Saudi government has gone missing after visiting the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018, the Washington Post reported. (Photo by OZAN KOSE / AFP) (Photo credit should read OZAN KOSE/AFP/Getty Images)

In the spring of 2012, I made an extended visit to Saudi Arabia to report on the effects of the Arab Spring there. The arch-conservative oil monarchy was pursuing a robust counter-revolution, but the uprisings had brought new energy to reformers across the region. I was curious to see how Saudis themselves saw their country’s future.

Among the many people I spoke with was Jamal Khashoggi, at the time an unusually well-connected journalist with an irrepressibly optimistic outlook. I also met the prominent reform cleric Salman al-Ouda, who had 14 million Twitter followers; Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, the pro-Western billionaire investor; Hatoon al-Fassi, a brilliant historian who viewed the liberated women of pre-Islamic Arabia as a model for change in her own society; Mohammad Fahad al-Qahtani, a US-educated economics professor; Waleed Abu al-Khair, a Jeddah lawyer; and the young blogger Eman Fahad al-Nafjan.…  Seguir leyendo »

As the fallout continues over the disappearance of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the government in Riyadh is putting on a tough face. If there are sanctions over the alleged murder of Mr. Khashoggi, the Saudis want the world to know, they will fight back.

On Sunday, the Saudi government released a recalcitrant statement: “The Kingdom also affirms that if it receives any action, it will respond with greater action, and that the Kingdom’s economy has an influential and vital role in the global economy and that the Kingdom’s economy is affected only by the impact of the global economy.”

These are empty threats.…  Seguir leyendo »

Thanks to the actions of the impetuous Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman — from the brutal war in Yemen to picking a fight with Canada to, most recently, the apparent murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi — Saudi Arabia is at risk of becoming a pariah state. The royal court in Riyadh — including King Salman bin Abdulaziz — surely realizes that this situation cannot continue.

If they are smart they will take decisive action. First, King Salman needs to remove Prince Mohammed from his post, admit responsibility for the assassination of Mr. Khashoggi, and face consequences. Later, if Saudi Arabia truly wants to become a respected member of the international community, the government should take steps toward becoming a constitutional monarchy.…  Seguir leyendo »

A portrait Mohammed bin Salman appears during a show at the King Fahad stadium in Riyadh as a part of celebrations of Saudi National Day on 23 September. Photo: Getty Images.

There is no doubt that the disappearance and likely death of Jamal Khashoggi will now damage Saudi Arabia’s relations with the US and Europe, should Riyadh be found responsible. (And as yet, Saudi Arabia has done little to convince that it is not responsible.)

They are already trading barbs. Donald Trump has said that Saudi Arabia will be ‘severely punished’ if found responsible for Khashoggi’s death, and while he has since walked back some of his remarks, leading Republicans are pushing for a strong response. Meanwhile, the Saudi commentator Turki al-Dhakheel claimed in an Al-Arabiya column that ‘more than 30 potential measures’ are being discussed by the kingdom as responses to potential sanctions.…  Seguir leyendo »

Mohammed bin Salman is pictured at the 2017 Future Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh. Dozens of business leaders are dropping out of the 2018 edition. Photo: Getty Images.

Concerns have been mounting for some time about the actions of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Rash actions have led to war in Yemen, the boycott and standoff with Qatar, the Ritz Carlton detentions, holding the Lebanese prime minister against his will, the diplomatic spat with Canada, and the arrests of dozens of Saudi women and men, ostensibly for voicing mildly critical opinions.

For business, this has been balanced with a recognition of the financial muscle of Saudi Arabia and the business opportunities presented by the Vision 2030 project.

But the Khashoggi affair has tipped that balance, as dozens of business leaders drop out of what was supposed to be a showpiece investment conference in Riyadh later this month.…  Seguir leyendo »

A protester held a picture of missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi during a demonstration in front of the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Monday. Credit Tolga Bozoglu/EPA, via Shutterstock

Jamal Khashoggi and I met at a conference in Istanbul in May. I was familiar with his work because I am interested in the Middle East and the Gulf region. We spoke for about half an hour about politics. Jamal talked about the extraordinary transformation taking place in Saudi Arabia, his native country, and how it made him anxious.

Afterward, I wrote to him to thank him for the conversation. We continued our dialogue, which quickly evolved into an emotional relationship. I admired his personality: his wisdom and courage to raise political questions in our part of the world. We connected over our shared passion for democracy, human rights and freedom of expression — the fundamental principles for which he fought.…  Seguir leyendo »

President Trump discussed pending sales of weapons with Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman of Saudi Arabia at the White House in March. Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times

More than a week after Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi Arabian journalist, commentator and intellectual disappeared inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, the United States is starting to realize it may be time to hold the government in Riyadh accountable for its reckless behavior and its violations of human rights.

On Oct. 10, Bob Corker and Bob Menendez, the top Republican and Democrat in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, triggered the Global Magnitsky Act, a bipartisan bill to punish human rights violators, to force the Trump administration to investigate and consider sanctions against Saudi Arabia. The crisis over Mr. Khashoggi’s disappearance piles on to growing — if belated — concern over Saudi Arabia’s disastrous war in Yemen, which has produced little geopolitical gain and much human suffering.…  Seguir leyendo »

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia during a visit to the United States in March. Credi tAlex Wong/Getty Images

This spring, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, fresh from consolidating power after imprisoning his rivals in the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton, went on a remarkably successful public relations tour of the United States. M.B.S., as he is widely known, met with Bill Clinton, Rupert Murdoch and Oprah Winfrey. He spoke about women’s empowerment, took selfies with movie stars, and feted Silicon Valley. He was regularly described as a “disrupter.” The tabloid publisher David J. Pecker — at the time still a close friend of Donald Trump — produced a hagiographic glossy magazine celebrating M.B.S. and his “Magic Kingdom.”

It was, as a senior Democratic staffer told me, a “master class in stroking the American establishment’s erogenous zones.”…  Seguir leyendo »

An official looks through the door of the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul. Jamal Khashoggi went missing after visiting the consulate on 2 October. Photo: Getty Images.

Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s fate remains unclear, but one thing appears certain – he has been ‘disappeared’. While it will require an investigation to establish the facts, the implications of Khashoggi’s disappearance are clear.

The new Saudi leadership is now intolerant of all dissent – home or abroad. US policy has inadvertently given carte blanche to the leadership to act with impunity. The kingdom’s international partners have very little leverage over its domestic or foreign policies. And confidence among international investors is nosediving and – without a drastic change in policy – will undermine Vision 2030.

Irrespective as to whether he has been killed or transported back to Saudi Arabia, the move has laid down an indelible marker that the new Saudi leadership will brook no criticism of its transformation project Vision 2030 – levelled from within or outside the kingdom.…  Seguir leyendo »