The murder of Jamal Khashoggi by the despotic Saudi regime has sent waves of revulsion around the world’s media.
Much of this condemnation is hypocritical. The same mainstream media that regularly propagandises for the Saudi regime now wants us to take its limited criticisms of one particular Saudi prince seriously.
The sad reality is that Khashoggi is the tip of the iceberg – true Saudi dissents are locked up, murdered, tortured, or forced to flee into exile abroad.
Much was made by corporate media in the west about the young Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman’s supposed “reforms” in the kingdom of horrors. Women were finally granted permission to drive!
But the reality is that the Saudi regime still enforces the male “guardianship” system, which requires women to have the permission of a close male relative to travel, seek employment, marry or enrol in higher education.
And many brave women who were active in the campaign for women’s right to drive in the kingdom have now been jailed in a recent crackdown.
In so blatantly ordering the murder of Khashoggi, bin Salman does seem to have gone too far for even some of his biggest supporters in the West.
People like President Trump and like former vice president Joe Biden. In one recent speech, Biden called the way the Saudis murdered Khashoggi “embarrassing” – what a telling comment.
In other words, he was effectively saying, carry on murdering students, protestors and critics, but do it quietly so we can keep selling your arms and you can keep supporting our key regional attack dog Israel.
It remains to be seen whether the mainstream backlash against bin Salman will result in any change. It seems highly unlikely, as long as western governments continue to sell Saudi Arabia arms and continue to prop the regime upon the diplomatic stage.
The worst-case scenario for the regime is that bin Salman – who is effectively ruler of the kingdom – is replaced by another despot from among the thousands of Saudi princes.
I wrote in my weekly column in Arabic that the last resort for Muhammad bin Salman to save his throne could be a visit to the Israeli Knesset. If that occurs, all the sudden Western critics of Saudi regime would uniformly cheer and salute MbS.
— asad abukhalil أسعد أبو خليل (@asadabukhalil) October 20, 2018
Lebanese-American professor and analyst As`ad AbuKhalil has recently been predicting that, should bin Salman start to feel enough pressure from the western establishment
to step down as Crown Prince, to save himself he will embark on a “peace” mission to the Knesset, Israel’s parliament.
Saudi Arabia’s ongoing alliance has been evident for some years now. The two regimes are so deeply in bed with each other that the only measure left which the Saudis have not taken is formal diplomatic recognition and exchange of ambassadors.
Should bin Salman indeed head off to the Knesset to prostrate himself in front of his fellow war criminals in Israel, expect all to be forgiven in case of the Khashoggi murder by mainstream politicians and journalists.
And don’t be fooled by the language of Saudi “peace” with Israel either. Such a strategy will be more about the attempted pacification of the Palestinians, than about real peace. The liquidation of the Palestinian cause is the real aim. Thanks to the determination of the Palestinian people themselves, however, that will not happen.
AbuKhalil was the first to predict that an Israeli role in the murder of Khashoggi would be unveiled. Now he has been vindicated.
In a recent article, the Committee to Protect Journalists reported that Omar Abdulaziz, a close associate of Khashoggi, had his phone infected by Pegasus, a high-tech piece of Israeli spyware.
A CitizenLab technical analysis found with a high degree of certainty that the cyber weapon had been operated by somebody in Saudi Arabia.
As I’ve previously reported, Pegasus turns targeted phones into spying devices. Practically anything on the phone can be accessed by the remote operator, including photos, text messages, encrypted conversations such as WhatsApp and even entire phone calls.
Abdulaziz and Khashoggi were close associates who at one stage were talking on the phone every day. The CPJ reports that “the Saudi government would have had access to hours of unvarnished conversations between the two men.”
Abdulaziz told the CPJ that Khashoggi was even more frank about his opinions against Muhammed bin Salman than in public: “He would say to me: this guy is not going to change.”
CPJ reports that Abdulaziz “feels a tremendous amount of guilt that the hacking of his cell phone gave the Saudi government a direct line into Jamal’s private thoughts.”
Abdulaziz need not feel such guilt – only the guilty parties should. Those parties, in this case, include the Israeli firm that sold this cyber weapon to the Saudis and those in the Israeli government who permitted them to do so – and will doubtless do again.
As I previously reported, NSO Group has strong links to the state of Israel. Its founders are “former” members of Unit 8200 – Israel’s criminal and thuggish cyber warfare arm. Such firms operate entirely in line with the Israeli state’s stipulations and regulations.
As such, the state of Israel had a hand in the murder of Khashoggi.
All of which partly explains why both Israel and its lobbying arms in the west has been going out to bat in recent weeks for bin Salman, with deceptive talk of regional “stability.”
With global criticism of bin Salman mounting, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently spluttered that “it is very important for the stability of the region and the world that Saudi Arabia remains stable” – in other words, bin Salman must remain in place.
Racism, oppression and war crimes: the Saudi and Israeli regimes have much in common.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.