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Saudi brutality and imperialist hypocracy

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Khashoggi evidently suspected he might be detained although he never expected to be murdered on site

By: Lal Khan

The murder of Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul’s Saudi Consulate at Istanbul has intensified the diplomatic rows on a world scale due to capitalism’s protracted crisis internationally. After repeated denials the kingdom finally confessed that Khashoggi ‘died’ in a “fist-fight” inside the consulate, without disclosing the whereabouts of his body.

Bruce Riedel, a former CIA official said, “This puts the ball firmly in Washington’s court… Not only will there be more pressure now from the media but Congress will say, ‘Gina, we would love to have you come visit and you can tell us exactly what you heard’.”

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman called the killing of Khashoggi: “heinous crime… and justice will prevail… all culprits will be punished”. MBS after extensive negotiations with Russian and Chinese delegates at ‘Davos in the Desert’ investment conference said, “Now we know who our best friends are, and who our best enemies are. “Dmitry Peskov, a Kremlin spokesman, said on Friday, “… no one should have any grounds not to believe them.”

The Turkish reaction was damning: “How should a real investigation in Saudi Arabia work when one of the main suspects is the crown prince MBS? The US nor the rest of the world should really accept this.”

The abduction-torture-murder of Jamal Khashoggi must have been planned as a kind of perfect crime in which the journalist would mysteriously disappear without a trace. It went terribly wrong. The planners didn’t anticipate that Khashoggi’s fiancé would be waiting outside the consulate with instructions to sound the alarm. Khashoggi evidently suspected he might be detained although he never expected to be murdered on site. They forgot that that he’d be seen on surveillance video entering the building, but not leaving. And overlooked that Turkish intelligence, having bugged the premises, would have audiotapes of the killing and the Erdogan regime would selectively leak information for its own financial bargains and use the murder to undermine its own vicious repression.

They also figured that the US administration would be willing accomplices after the assassination. Initially Trump made every attempt to give the Saudi rulers the “benefit of the doubt” with Secretary of State Pompeo allowing them time “to complete their investigation” (cover-up). In the past the Saudi Monarchy played a crucial role to rescue of Trump’s failing real estate empire. However with the burgeoning international outrage and rising pressure domestically Trump had to retreat: “They had a very bad original concept. It was carried out poorly, and the cover-up was one of the worst in the history of cover-ups. I would say it was a total fiasco from day one…Well, the prince is running things and so if anybody were going to be, it would be him.” On 27 October US Defence Secretary James Mattis said, “Khashoggi’s murder undermines regional stability… US intends to take further action.”

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir criticised the global outcry as ‘hysterical’. The United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions Agnes Callamard said, “What we know is sufficient to suggest very strongly that Mr Khashoggi was the victim of an extrajudicial execution and the Saudi Arabia government is implicated in one way or another.”

Trump’s main objective is the profits from 110 billion dollar arms sales to Saudi Arabia, the second largest buyer of arms after India. The genocidal impact of imperialist weapons on the people of Yemen was supposed to remain mostly hidden. This means an even greater crisis for Trump’s presidency and the US state and system.

The blatant lies coming from Riyadh collapsed, with each new version exposing the falsity of the previous one. It’s not that anyone actually believed, or was even expected to believe, that Khashoggi had left the embassy, or had been accidentally killed in a “fistfight” during some kind of “rogue operation” – rather, governments and media outlets were expected to pretend to believe it. The bumbling character of the cover-up made the pretence unsustainable.

One member of the hit team of fifteen commandos sent to exterminate Khashoggi has already been killed in a convenient “traffic accident” shortly after returning home. The others according to the secretive regime have been fired or arrested. They were destined to be the scapegoats in hiding the plot. Some may be quietly reallocated; others may even wind up permanently disappeared like Jamal Khashoggi. Whether such measures will salvage MBS’s international stature as a “modernizing reformer” remains to be worked out inside the Royal family’s palatial intrigues and factional knife wars. The consultations among global capital’s corporate and government mafia dons will also be crucial.

This whole episode lays bare the unravelling of geopolitics and the intense crisis of the international relations. Just few months ago MBS was hailed as a ‘reformer’ by the western imperialists. He was a close friend of Trump’s son in Law Jared Kushner. The brutal Egyptian dictator al-Sisi, India’s Narindra Modi and many other pro imperialists quasi-democratic despots and bigots are not touched. Turkey’s autocratic ‘Sultan’ is obscuring his own tyranny through Khashoggi’s murder.

One way or another, these so-called reformers often outlive their usefulness and become disposable. Whether that happens to MBS himself is not certain, given Saudi Arabia’s oil, its massive international investment and financial reach, and its strategic centrality in the war mongering rage against Iran. However imperialists embrace of MBS and others like him make themselves willing accomplices and partners in their horrific despotism. This murder will exacerbate the instability and tensions in the region.

It has also shaken the consciousness of the masses. The already depleted reverence of the Saudi Monarchy as custodians of the Kaaba shall start waning more rapidly. The dangers of a military clash between despotic regimes in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey and Gulf’s sheikhdoms are looming. Political, economic and social repression is choking and pulverising the youth and working classes. The market economic system is too obsolete and rotten to bring even genuine bourgeois democracy to these neo-colonial societies. Society’s stability and socioeconomic development is in cul-de-sac. Human civilisation faces a dire and barbaric future under this decaying capitalism. In Marx’s words, “The point is to change it.”

  • The writer is the editor of Asian Marxist Review and International Secretary of Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign. First published in Daily Times.

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