MBS played them for suckers

Nicholas Kristof on Trump on Saudi Arabia and MBS and Khashoggi:

Turkey claims to have audiotape of Saudi interrogators torturing Jamal and killing him in the Saudi Consulate. None of this is confirmed, and we still don’t know exactly what happened; we all pray that Jamal will still reappear. But increasingly it seems that the crown prince, better known as M.B.S., orchestrated the torture, assassination and dismemberment of an American-based journalist using diplomatic premises in a NATO country.

That is monstrous, and it’s compounded by the tepid response from Washington. President Trump is already rejecting the idea of responding to such a murder by cutting off weapons sales. Trump sounds as if he believes that the consequence of such an assassination should be a hiccup and then business as usual.

Frankly, it’s a disgrace that Trump administration officials and American business tycoons enabled and applauded M.B.S. as he imprisoned business executives, kidnapped Lebanon’s prime minister, rashly created a crisis with Qatar, and went to war in Yemen to create what the United Nations calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis there. Some eight million Yemenis on the edge of starvation there don’t share this bizarre view that M.B.S. is a magnificent reformer.

And did anyone consult the thousands of foreign domestic workers in Saudi Arabia? I doubt that MBS is a big reformer to them.

In the end, M.B.S. played Kushner, Trump and his other American acolytes for suckers. The White House boasted about $110 billion in arms sales, but nothing close to that came through. Saudi Arabia backed away from Trump’s Middle East peace deal. Financiers salivated over an initial public offering for Aramco, the state-owned oil company, but that keeps getting delayed.

But hey, he said women could drive.

But he also imprisoned the women’s rights activists who had been campaigning for the right to drive. Saudi Arabia even orchestrated the detention abroad of a women’s rights activist, Loujain al-Hathloul, and her return in handcuffs. She turned 29 in a Saudi jail cell in July, and her marriage has ended. She, and not the prince who imprisons her, is the heroic reformer.

Just last month in London, unidentified Saudi men, one wearing an earpiece, attacked a Saudi dissident named Ghanem al-Dosari, who has mocked M.B.S. as “the tubby teddy bear.” As they punched Dosari, they cursed him for criticizing the Saudi royal family.

“M.B.S.’s message to Saudis is clear: I will shut you up no matter where you are and no matter what laws I have to break to do it,” Sarah Leah Whitson of Human Rights Watch told me.

Yes but he and his entourage spend so much lovely money in Trump’s hotels – how can we possibly criticize them?

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