The case of the missing Jamal Khashoggi is unexplained. Regardless, it is known how brutally Crown Prince Salman suppressed all criticism. Europe has to do something.
Comment by Paul-Anton Krüger
With every day that Jamal Khashoggi has disappeared, the hope that the Saudi journalist is still alive disappears. Every day, the suspicions that he was murdered in the Consulate General of the Kingdom in Istanbul, as the Turkish authorities claim. If true, which has hitherto been a conjecture, it will have grave consequences for the entire Arab, even Muslim world, for the radiance of the land of the holy places of Mecca and Medina, for the geopolitical balance of power of the rival powers, for the relations of the West States with Saudi Arabia. If the kingdom has commissioned a political murder, that must not be without consequences.
Khashoggi is the most prominent critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, but not a defector. His criticism is nuanced, he welcomed the social opening, blamed the economic reforms as unrealistic, lamented the lack of political participation of the 20 million citizens. His fate must now focus on hundreds of other Saudi Arabian dissidents who do not have powerful friends. Some of them were captured abroad and returned to Saudi Arabia against their will. Many of them face long prison sentences, and some face the threat of execution. That was probably the plan for Khashoggi.
Case Khashoggi brings corporations into explanation
Several companies have canceled their participation in a business conference in Saudi Arabia. Siemens is also a partner there – and "follows the case very closely".
It is time for European countries, and not least Germany, to end their silence in the face of the massive political repression that the Crown Prince is organizing against any critics. It is embarrassing how the community of values left Europe alone when all the rage of the King's son hit the country over a critical tweet from Secretary of State Chrystia Freeland. This was perhaps undiplomatic and tactically unwise, but contentwise justified. And no reason to break off diplomatic and economic relations. Anyone who silently accepts such extortionate behavior only reinforces the crown prince's brutal actions.
The Europeans can count on the USA only conditionally: President Trump fears for billions with "beautiful weapons". The royal family has already cut him out as a businessman, when he needed money. He has closely linked the entire Middle East policy of the United States with Riad's interests, his sword dance last year with the king was the visible sign. MbS, as the Crown Prince is called, is to deliver the Century Deal: Peace in the Middle East. Together they want to push Iran back. Everything is subordinate to that. So ignoring the bombing in Yemen. After all, resistance is growing among Republicans in Congress.
Mohammed bin Salman embodies the principle of absolutism: "L'état c'est moi!" But even for Saudi Arabia and the Crown Prince, the presumption of innocence applies. But it does not take long to ask where the responsibility lies if the allegations by the Turkish authorities continue to harden. The credibility of the Crown Prince is already badly damaged. It is in his interest and his hand to refute the allegations quickly and conclusively. Otherwise his country will be seriously damaged.
"Many critics are muzzled or disappear"
That said the well-known Saudi Arabian journalist in conversation with the SZ last July. A few days ago, Jamal Khashoggi disappeared in Istanbul.
Interview by Paul-Anton Krüger