Those who most need the protections of international human rights law — dissidents, journalists, civil society actors — these vulnerable people are used to operating in the knowledge that big governments out there in the world care. They don’t have that now.
[The Saudis are in no position to retaliate to an arms sales ban by reducing oil exports. The Saudis] have serious cash flow problems with a war that costs them $50 billion a year. [The crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman,] is shaking down his own businessmen because he needs the money.
I’m sure the demise of a Washington Post journalist is not a priority for a ‘fake news’ president. I don’t think the Trump administration is going to do anything about Khashoggi... Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy, but that said, it has behaved within international norms for the most part. It did not used to kidnap and murder critics in such an egregious way. It didn’t round up hundreds of its own citizens and shake them down in a Ritz-Carlton [as Mohammed bin Salman did last fall]. It has not put a former crown prince under house arrest. This … reflects the somewhat precarious nature of bin Salman’s position. His legitimacy is open, and his judgment is reckless. Saudi royal family members have gone out of their way to say [the war in Yemen] was not a family decision... [bin Salman] continues to enjoy the protection of his father, and that’s what’s crucial. But I would not be surprised if he were moved out of the line of succession or there was an assassination attempt.
[If the Saudis] are willing to assassinate a journalist on foreign soil because he was mildly critical, these international partners are going to be much less likely to send their students, researchers and experts to the kingdom or to set up long-term partnerships with the kingdom.
If all that’s alleged [regarding Khashoggi] is true, WeWork will be in bed with a regime that has expressed brazen disregard for virtually any norm of international politics. They should tread carefully before accepting a majority stake from a fund that’s in effect a Saudi investment vehicle.
No country is going to be fully consistent in saying exactly the same thing about every violation of rights everywhere in the world at every moment, but in the case of Saudi Arabia and Iran, the gap under this administration is glaring.
The crocodile tears of the crown prince and other Saudi officials are probably for deception and prevarication. The disappearance of Jamal [Khashoggi] fits with a pattern of crude intimidation and the silencing of criticism and dissent.
If you criticize Saudi Arabia, there will be a price to pay... Every American president since FDR has put oil and strategic affairs before human rights when dealing with Saudi kings in fear of a disruption in the bilateral relationship. But Trump has taken this abrogation of accountability to a new level of negligence.