A Short Defense of Saudi Arabia’s Bonesawing of Jamal Khashoggi


Some six months ago Saudi staffers at the country’s consulate in Istanbul dismembered by bonesaw the now-deceased Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

It was pretty much an open and shut case since the whole grisly affair was captured on video, which was clearly rigged up by Turkish officials eager to embarrass the Saudis. That’s an outrageous breach of diplomatic protocol.

Anyway, the point is that there’s not much dispute that Khashoggi died a terrible death, that his passing is a tragedy and that the Saudis routinely violate human rights. But you can read that anywhere. Washington Babylon exists to give you an alternative point of view.

So, you may be asking, why is the Saudi killing of Khashoggi understandable, if not 100 percent defensible?

Well, there are a few reasons. First, Khashoggi took the side of the a Qatari-dominated tribe, the Shammar, in a dispute with a Saudi tribe, the Beni Tamim. The details of the dispute don’t matter and it’s too tribal and convoluted to go into. But I will note that the Qatari tribe is Shia and the Saudi tribe is Sunni, as is the Saudi monarchy and most of its citizens.

What does matter is that the Saudi regime — of which Khashoggi has been a critic of but also a huge beneficiary — gave him three chances to rethink things. He didn’t do so and hence was bonesawed.

That may seem harsh but they don’t call them tribes for nothing. Also, the Saudi regime accused Khashoggi of treason for supporting the Qatari tribe. Treason carries the death penalty in Saudi Arabia, as it does in the U.S.

In a place like Saudi Arabia, like Iraq, where I have traveled twice, you can be literally skinned alive for so much as looking at the wrong woman more than two, three or certainly four times. That’s just the way it is and Amnesty International isn’t going to change that no matter how much it whines about Saudi human rights violations.

So why can’t we move move on? Khashoggi’s kids have. His two sons and daughters “have received million-dollar houses in the kingdom and monthly five-figure payments as compensation for the killing of their father, according to current and former Saudi officials as well as people close to the family,” The scummy Jeff Bezos Washington Post recently reported.

I guess it’s easier to cry and moan about human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia than it is to address, or rationally discuss, systemic racism and police violence against African-Americans or the power of our vile tech oligarchy, to name just two examples.

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