The Arab world is facing its own version of an Iron Curtain, imposed not by external actors but through domestic forces vying for power. 


Jamal Khashoggi,  “What The Arab World Needs Most is Free Expression”

                                                                         Washington Post, October 17, 2018





SUMMARY: The resolution of the Israeli – Palestinian conflict has produced yet another naïve victim, namely President Trump with his “Deal of the Century” supposedly strategized and implemented by — to quote Nikki Haley —  the “hidden genius” of his son in law Jarred Kushner. But, it continues to weigh at the grass root level of all Muslim world’s – particularly the Arab countries — where the persisting humiliation of the “man in the street” and what the general population at large perceives as their leader’s corruption, brutal dictatorial governance and foreign policy incompetence in dealing with Israel and helping the Palestinian cause is an ongoing domestic problem. As the world is now noticing the Saudi ruthless methods through the lens of Khashoggi’s murder that they have tried  so far pathetically to sweep under the carpet and polish by millions of dollars in PR money and Washington political connections on the take — a page out of the past should be revealing in manifesting the Saudi political culture.


Following the first oil shock in 1973 and the flow of money into Saudi Arabia, King Faisal who was demonstrating public support for the Palestinians gifted Yasser Arafat’s movement with 50 Million dollars that were used in his arms struggle against the Israeli occupation. The United States, pressured by the  Jewish lobby approached its only solid and viable ally in the region, The Shah of Iran to plead with King Faisal his counterpart to refrain from the financial aid to the PLO movement. The Shah dispatched a trusted emissary to Riyadh for a friendly message at the request of  “our American friends” request on the matter. After the initial diplomatic formalities, the message was conveyed in the strictest manner instructed personally by The Shah to King Faisal in the private audience attended only by an accompanying Iranian translator. After listening to The Shah’s envoy, King Faisal’s first words were, “Have you seen dogs in the city here”, the emissary who was an experienced official familiar both with the diplomatic language, nuances, and the Arab culture in general, believed that it is the King’s manner of not wanting to discuss the matter further. He had, in fact, noticed dogs there with what he had thought to be a very peculiar trait of sunbathing either on top of cars or elsewhere instead of seeking the comfort of the shade in that gruesome heat of Saudi Arabia and had, therefore, politely replied affirmatively.


The King continued by saying “When dogs attack you, a piece of bone should be thrown at them to distract and refrain them from coming at you. If they still continue assaulting you, then you should hit them with whatever you have in your possession. The Palestinians are like wild dogs to us that a little money thrown at them, like a bone is meant to stop them from striking us, and other than domestic political reasons and our image in the Muslim world, we are not really concerned for the Palestinian’s faith”. He had then added, that, “ The Shah, should ask the American’s who know and control all the arms merchants, why don’t they stop them selling and delivering arms to the Palestinians.” The conversation had then continued to other matters beyond the interest of this essay.


What needs to be retained is that the Saudi brutal mentality opposing any criticism and thinking of enemies or perceived adversaries as pure dogs or animals not worth Human dignity — has not evolved and is still in its unpolished medieval mindset. The current administration’s praise of Saudi Arabia and its Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MBS) supposedly on the road to modernization is nothing short of a farce that has only empowered the Kingdom’s ruler to eliminate all “dogs” on their path as clearly exemplified by the blatant assassination of Jamal Khashoggi in the dungeons of Saudi Consulate in Istanbul Turkey. In fact, the supposed Saudi reform has been perpetually declared many times over the past two decades. The only cosmetic reform – overdue for decades – that was publicized and attributed to MBS only at the end of June this year was the permission to allow women to drive. Otherwise, MBS’s autocratic rule has continued to alienate and crush the domestic status quo and powerful elites in trying to cement his ruthless rule. Thus, it is wise to remember that his slimy smile is only showing his teeth. The case of Jamal Khashoggi is only the latest in a series of opposition suppression at home or abroad through any means that justifies the end. Amazingly, the international Press now obsessed with the assassination of one of their own has forgotten the diplomatic brawl between Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Saudi Arabia only a couple of months ago over the prosecution and death penalty of five human rights activists, including a woman.


What MBS and Saudi Arabia’s conservative religious autocrats should realize is that in the age of Social Media and transparency along with mounting economic and military problems with the war at their doorstep in Yemen, it is only a matter of time before the Tsunami of discontent to overtake their House of Cards during an unavoidable upheaval which is not – If, but only a matter of time.  Hence, for MBS or his father with an image from another past era, the faith of King Faisal of Saudi Arabia and his assassination in the Palace, should be in their rear-view mirror that the bad blood he has instigated in the Kingdom is seriously shadowing his rule. The daggers have already been drawn in the Palace by the discontented elites. Further, on the question of Palestinians, MBS’s coziness with Israel and the Jewish organizations and groups has not been lost in the Arab world or in Saudi Arabia. As Israel, continues to Massacre The Frustrated Young Palestinians In Gaza against all international norms, it was reported by Axios at the end of April 2018, that in a closed-door meeting with several Jewish groups, MBS had empathically made it clear that the Palestinian issue is not a priority for him. Just as  King Faisal had reiterated to The Shah’s envoy. But then MBS and the rest of the Arab World Leaders should also remember the faith of Iraq’s King Faisal II and his entire family during the 14 July Revolution of 1958 when they were all gunned down and the sensitivity of the Arab / Muslim world to the Palestinian dilemma. Many years later, Captain Abdul Sattar Sabaa Al-Ibousi who had captured the entire Iraqi Royal Family and was asked about the events leading to their execution, had confessed to Safa Khulusi a historian and once his teacher that, “all I did was remember Palestine, and the trigger on the machine-gun just set itself off.”[1] There are many within the ruling status quo and military in Saudi Arabia that apart from the general population are just waiting for the opportune moment and MBS or his father should heed the Palestinian problem and warning, amongst other waves they are recklessly making at home or abroad. The installation of the American embassy in occupied Jerusalem, the closing of the Palestinian Office in Washington, and the cutting off of Two Hundred million dollar aid to them by the U.S in order to force a one-sided peace treaty in favor of Israel while Saudi Arabia and the Arab world are quietly watching without any protest or influence is not being lost by their audience at home.


As for the United States, it would be the greatest political and diplomatic gaffe to continue courting the Saudi ruling Unroyal family as before and without impunity. The Saudi’s current dire financial and geostrategic position with the war in Yemen does not give them any leverage on America’s demand i.e. a little accountability. Oil is a global Spot market and the Saudis cannot afford and are unable to replay the embargo game of the Yom Kippur War anymore, at least in the long run. The US, therefore, despite its current dismal foreign policy posture, especially in the Middle East and its one-sided support of Israel, should draw concretely a line in the sand as a must and a matter of policy, credibility, and above all principle. The Khashoggi assassination is beyond an innocent life being taken, it is a blatant act of assault on the Western heritage of democracy and Freedom of expression making America an accomplice to the Saudis that it can hardly afford to be associated with in global politics. It is time for the United States, to put its money into America’s political foreign policy ideas, where its long-term, yet already damaged image should be portrayed. Thus, MBS or his father should at the least be treated as persona non grata in any direct contact with any US President or official visit to the United States.

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[1] Professor Safa Khulusi, Obituary, The Independent, 5 October 1995


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