The Khashoggi Affair: Back to the future

By | October 18, 2018

Nabeel Khoury writes:

From the abuses of the male guardianship in Saudi Arabia to arrest and torture of dissenters in Egypt and the jailing of environmentalists and journalists in Iran, the Middle East is rife with human rights abuses. Nor is this something new. Authoritarian regimes in the Arab world, both monarchical and republican, since their independence from colonial powers have routinely used repressive measures to keep their opposition at bay and their broader population quiescent. Saddam Hussein notoriously put down a Kurdish rebellion in Halabja in 1988, gassing 5,000 people during the larger campaign of al-Anfal which reportedly killed over 50,000 Kurds. Syria, even before Assad’s bloody war against his opposition in 2011, routinely jailed, tortured, and killed opposition figures; and had no compunctions against tracking them into neighboring countries, particularly Lebanon, in order to do so.

In this context, the apparent killing of prominent journalist Jamal Khashoggi, though shocking and sickening, is also sadly typical of the behavior of autocratic regimes in the region, his own included. Since becoming crown prince, Mohammad Bin Salman (MbS) presided over the jailing of women dissidents and the execution of Shia clerics—all while launching a now four-year old war on neighboring Yemen which has devastated the country and created the worst humanitarian crisis in the world without achieving any of its vaguely stated goals. This is particularly disappointing in light of his image as a reformer, which he spent millions propagating in the west, and has unfortunately led many scholars and journalists to lend it more credence than is deserved.

Yet human rights abuses in the region, especially Saudi Arabia have been documented for decades and up to the present by Human Rights Watch along with the US State Department. [Continue reading…]

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