As the world’s leading power, there are times in which the United States must take action and set an example for others. Regardless of which party an individual’s views align best with, I think that most people agree that a free press is vital in maintaining democracy and avoiding tyranny. Saudi Arabia has caught worldwide attention for its actions against journalist, Jamal Khashoggi and it is now on the United States to make it clear to Saudi Arabia that they cannot strip internationally accepted human rights from citizens of their choosing. As it becomes clear that Saudi officials are not being transparent in regards to Khashoggi’s disappearance, western nations should have a stern and effective reaction.
Although Saudi Arabia and the United States have maintained a relationship, many of the actions of Crown Prince Salman have been reprehensible since assuming the position just over a year ago. Under the guise of anti-corruption and social reforms, this murder would not be the first of his human rights violations. In November of last year, Salman jailed two hundred businessmen and princes until they forfeited billions of dollars, properties and portions of their investments. Many of the victims showed signs of physical abuse, one even dying of his injuries. Furthermore, the detainment of Abdulaziz al-Shubaily, a Saudi human rights activist in May, among many other arrests, have caused groups like Amnesty International to criticize the current administration.
At first, Salman insisted that Khashoggi had left the consulate unharmed and now claims that he was accidentally killed in a fight with Saudi agents. Neither story carries any merit as the administration continues to change its tale of events. Evidence from Turkey suggests that the killing was planned by 15 Saudi security and intelligence agents who arrived at the consulate just prior to Khashoggi’s arrival. Representatives of the Saudi government continue to deny that it was premeditated but new evidence released on October 22nd, says otherwise. The evidence shows video footage of a body double, who pretended to be Khashoggi after he was killed, further supporting the idea that it was premeditated and that it was ordered by high ranking Saudi officials.
If it is proven that the operation was ordered by the crown prince or another high ranking Saudi official, sanctions should almost immediately be imposed on Saudi Arabia. Much like previous sanctions implemented on Russia in the past, sanctions should be placed on any Saudi officials who are tied to Khashoggi’s disappearance as well as restrictions on the country’s trade.