Case of Jamal Khashoggi: Trump’s controversial support for Saudi Arabia after journalist’s murder

Trump considered Saudi Arabia as a "firm partner" of his country.
Trump considered Saudi Arabia as a "firm partner" of his country.

President Donald Trump was firm in his support for Saudi Arabia.

Despite the international condemnation and calls for sanctions that have fallen on the Gulf kingdom for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at his consulate in Istanbul, the US president chose Tuesday to lay an olive branch to his ally in the Middle East.

In a “supportive” communiqué, Trump considered Riyadh a ” firm partner ” who agreed to invest “a record amount of money” in his country and that any measure against him would be taken advantage of by Russia or China.

He went further: he admitted that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ” may or may not have known” about Khashoggi’s murder, but that, “in any case,” his relationship was with the kingdom.

According to Anthony Zurcher, a US analyst with the BBC, Trump’s announcement seeks to make clear the position of his country prior to the publication of a CIA report that, according to US media reports, concludes that Bin Salman had knowledge of the murder of the journalist.

“Trump’s action could be seen as an attempt to anticipate that finding and clearly indicate that the strong alliance between the US and Saudi Arabia will continue without interference,” says Zurcher.

The statement, which begins by stating categorically that the ” world is a very dangerous place ” and follows in seven other paragraphs defending Washington’s relationship with Riyadh to confront Iran, provoked outrage among politicians, analysts and activists in the United States.

Trump defended Saudi Arabia.
Trump defended Saudi Arabia.

Some, in fact, saw it as the confirmation of a remarkable change in foreign policy and in the values ​​traditionally defended by that nation in the international arena.


The communique generated questions from both sides of the political spectrum in the United States.

On Tuesday night, Republican Senator Bob Corker and Democrat Bob Menéndez, leaders of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, sent a letter to the president demanding a second investigation into the role of the crown prince in Khashoggi’s murder.

The document urges to clarify whether “a foreign person is responsible for an extrajudicial killing, torture or other serious violation” of human rights.

Earlier, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R) considered Khashoggi’s murder a ” barbaric act ” and predicted strong bipartisan support in Congress for sanctions against Saudi Arabia, “including members of the royal family.”

But on Tuesday afternoon, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reiterated his support for the president’s statement and considered that we live “a dirty world” and that Trump was “forced to adopt policies that promote the national security of the United States.”

The journalist was killed at the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul on October 2.
The journalist was killed at the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul on October 2.

Among the Trump supporters, the announcement was seen as a confirmation that the president prioritizes national interests over the problems of the rest of the world.

Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, meanwhile, said she was surprised that the president was not going to punish Bin Salman for the “premeditated murder” of the journalist.

Meanwhile, Fred Ryan, editor of The Washington Post , described the president’s statement as ” a betrayal of long-standing American values, ” such as respect for human rights and “the expectation of trust and honesty” in strategic relations. from the country.

In the opinion of the journalist, the country that for years championed the international fight for human rights, begins to submit to the interests of foreign nations and a new transactional approach to foreign relations.

Paradigm shift?

According to Anthony Zurcher, Trump’s communiqué is consistent with his policy of “the United States first ” on which he based his campaign and which is aimed at putting the interests of his country in front of those of the rest of the planet.

“Contrast the supremacy of US interests with a grim vision of the rest of the world, where bad things often go beyond Washington’s control,” he says.

Zurcher believes that the statement seeks to divert attention from the murder to focus on other issues.

Saudi Arabia maintains that the crown prince knew nothing about the plans for the murder.
Saudi Arabia maintains that the crown prince knew nothing about the plans for the murder.

“The president quickly tries to change the subject to Iran. Rejects reports that Salman bin Mohammed ordered the murder, citing the economic impact of US $ 450 .000 million in investments and arms sales to the Saudis , “

says Anthony Zurcher.

However, according to Jonathan Marcus, a diplomatic correspondent of the BBC, beyond the controversy, one of the issues to be considered is what this declaration will imply for international relations.

“US policy in the Middle East is so aligned with that of two key people (Mohammed bin Salman in Saudi Arabia and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu) that it is increasingly difficult to see how Washington can play a role as a referee independent, “he says.

With this statement, in the opinion of Anthony Zurcher, Trump “has distilled his vision of the United States first” to its essence “.

” The mora l and global leadership take a back seat to perceived economic and military security of the United States “.

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