Dr Davood Ahmadzadeh told the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations that Saudi Arabia should face severe punishments and sanctions by the US and European Union while its regional and international status should be diminished as the result of the crimes committed by Mohammad bin Salman as the United Nations has criticized the regime for the court judgement on the Khashoggi case.
He said the decision by Riyadh to kill Jamal Khashoggi in Saudi Consulate in Istanbul as well as the invasion of Yemen and extensive suppression of domestic opposition and critics has been influenced by the aggressive policies adopted by the regime after bin Salman came into power. He added that the foreign policy of Saudi Arabia in this period has caused crises and havoc in West Asia.
Ahmadzadeh said the voice of the opposition should be silenced in the view of bin Salman, adding that a big number of Saudi opposition left the regime or sought asylum abroad after the assassination of Khashoggi.
Main outcome: the real face of bin Salman revealed after the killing of Khashoggi
Dr Ahmadzadeh referred to other crimes of bin Salman such as the extensive arrest of women rights activists including women and tens of clerics, scientists and journalists.
“The main outcome of the killing of Khashoggi for Saudi Arabia and especially for bin Salman was that his real face was revealed and the false image he portrayed of himself was exposed. After this assassination, American and European journalists extensively covered Saudi involvement in the war in Yemen and the status of human rights in Saudi Arabia.”
Referring to the reports of the United Nations on the killing of Khashoggi as well as the crimes committed by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, Ahmadzadeh said “efforts were made to cover up these crimes by Saudi Arabia under the support of some Western governments such as the US. The media in countries allied to Saudi Arabia tried to pretend that such crimes occurred outside of the control of bin Salman. However, it was later revealed by Turkey that Saudi security forces with ties to bin Salman were behind the killing of Khashoggi”.
Ahmadzadeh referred to the intervention of the US regime to block any resolution against Saudi Arabia in the Security Council and the General Assembly, saying more countries are becoming critical of the severity of human rights in Saudi Arabia.
“Bin Salman who had tried to represent a moderate rather than a Salafi Islamic image of himself failed in his efforts to minimize criticisms on human rights issues and reactionary edits of some Wahabbi and Salafi clerics”.
Ahmadzadeh said: Under the cover of such hypocritical policies, human rights violations continue in some Shia-majority districts of Saudi Arabia such as Hijaz and the regime continues suppression of dissidents especially some princes who are less allied with bin Salman and his policies. This indicates that bin Salman is till seeking to unify power and advance aggressive policies in the region.
He said such issues have incurred costs on Saudi Arabia in various areas such as the dividing religious gap between minority Shias and majority Sunnis in south Hijaz. “Additionally, the killing of Khashoggi exposed the violent image of Saudi rulers for the public opinion and demonstrated that they are still seeking to suppress the opposition with iron hands and exploit religion for this purpose”.
Referring to the isolation of Saudi Arabia in the world’s political and economic circles after the killing of Khashoggi, Dr Ahmadzadeh said independent countries continue to criticize Saudi Arabia while its allies such as the US and European countries and the UAE and Bahrain that have common interests with Saudi Arabia try to cover up Saudi crimes.
Dr Ahmadzadeh said Khashoggi killing and the Saudi treatment of the incident discouraged foreign investors from investing in Saudi Arabia and even contributing to the Davos in the Desert forum in Riyadh.
He said that the crisis created as the result of the Khashoggi killing caused disruption in the efforts and plans of bin Salman to attract foreign investment in Saudi Arabia. “This is while bin Salman considered diversification of economic resources and attraction of foreign investments as one of the main pillars of the 2030 Vision”.
On the impacts of the Saudi crimes on its relations with the United States, he said: Trump has announced several times that Saudi Arabia can bring abundant economic interests and gains for the White House. Trump refuses to follow up human rights cases especially the killing of Khashoggi in international fora or adopt an anti-Saudi approach due to his own interests such as the Deal of the Century and huge arms sales by American companies and weapons exporters.
Ahmadzadeh referred to the efforts of Trump to divert public attentions from the crimes of bin Salman including the assassination of Khashoggi, saying that this case had no impact on relations between the White House and Riyadh as the US continues to view Saudi Arabia as the same “milking dairy cow” of the region and even benefit from its.
He said some European countries adopted a different approach than the US, especially among the EU powers.
“While Britain continues to follow the policies of the White House and did not indicate any sensitivity as to the murder of Khashoggi and Saudi human rights violations and suppression of domestic opposition. Notwithstanding, some free media in Europe including in France and Germany criticized the Saudi regime and called for the cessation of arms sales to Saudi Arabia”.
European support for the aggressive policies of Saudi Arabia
Dr Ahmadzadeh said many Saudi violations and crimes were only highlighted in the media and European countries failed in action to unite against the aggressive policies of Saudi Arabia domestically and regionally.
He said the Khashoggi murder inflicted irreparable damage on the Saudi image in the world and created doubts and concerns among some Western countries in their relations with Saudi Arabia and their impressions on bin Salman.
He added that the costs incurred on Saudi Arabia for its crimes and murders inside and outside of the country were much less than what expected even among the Western media.
“Saudi’s huge oil resources, arms sales of Europe and the US to Saudi Arabia and some regional policies of Saudi Arabia tied its security to the security of these countries and they are not prepared to raise Saudi human rights violations and sever their relations with Riyadh because of their own interests”.
Dr Ahmadzadeh said any other country than Saudi Arabia could have faced severe sanctions and punishments by the US and the EU if it had committed such crimes and murders as the killing of Khashoggi and invading innocent people of Yemen.
“However, in the logic of power, the sale of oil and weapons as well as alignment in regional policies prevent other countries from acting against Saudi Arabia especially in relations to its human rights violations”.