Journalist’s Disappearance Forces Trump’s Hand on Saudi Arabia

Administration had long avoided raising human rights concerns

The disappearance of high-profile Saudi journalist, and regular writer for the Washington Post, Jamal Khashoggi has put the Trump Administration into an uncomfortable position, obliging them to raise the questions about the disappearance and presumptive murder of the man by Saudi officials.

Khashoggi’s connections with the Washington Post made this a much bigger story than the disappearances of most dissident journalists in the Middle East. That he was in exile for writings critical to the Saudi Crown Prince, and entered a Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, but never came out, making it very likely he came to a bad end.

Trump was virtually obliged to weigh in on such a big story, uncomfortable though it may be. His administration, after all, has long avoided raising any human rights concerns with the Saudis, and there are a lot of big issues to raise. Himself no fan of critical journalists, for Trump to raise this issue with the Saudis may ultimately set the stage for more questions to be asked in the years to come.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is calling for a “thorough” investigation by the Saudis into Khashoggi’s disappearance as well, which also virtually obliges the US to follow through when such an investigation doesn’t happen.

The Saudis, after all, insisst that nothing happened to Khashoggi, and barring the Turkish government coming across his corpse at some point in the near future, that’s a position they’re likely to stick to.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.