The alleged murder and dismemberment of journalist and Saudi critic, Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul, last week has angered many observers around the world, from fellow journalists, to turkish officials, to U.S. government officials. Though the incident, which Turkish officials say was carried out by Saudi operatives while Khashoggi was inside his country’s consulate, some say the United States should take action.
Will Inboden is executive director of the Clements Center for History, Strategy, and Statecraft at the University of Texas at Austin. He wrote about Khashoggi’s disappearance for Foreign Policy magazine. The two met during Imboden’s tenure at the State Department. He says Khashoggi”s apparent murder is a slap in the face to the United States.
“He was most recently living in the United States,” Imboden says. “He had sought refuge here from repression in Saudi Arabia. And so even though he wasn’t a formal U.S. citizen, he was under our protection.”
Despite friendly relations, and financial ties between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, Khashoggi, who spoke out against the Saudi government, sought safety in the U.S. and was apparently killed in Turkey, an NATO ally of the United States.
“It’s a very brazen slap at the United States by the Saudi government,” Imboden says.
Imboden believes the U.S. should retaliate against Saudi Arabia. He suggests possible suspension of arms sales, or the expulsion of senior diplomats, including Saudi Ambassador Khalid bin Salman. He is the younger brother of the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
“I certainly think that with next week’s major investors conference in Riyadh, the United States should not send Treasury Secretary [Steven] Mnuchin,” he says.
President Donald Trump has so far expressed concern that Russia could step in to sell arms to Saudi Arabia, should the U.S. suspend such sales.
Imboden says the U.S. has leverage against the Saudi kingdom, which he says needs the U.S. more than the U.S. needs the Saudis.
Written by Shelly Brisbin.