How the missing Saudi writer could affect Israel

Khashoggi was opponent of Israeli-Saudi ties, said J’lem won’t protect region from Iran

By
October 12, 2018 06:37
3 minute read.
A demonstrator holds picture of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi during a protest in front of Saudi

A demonstrator holds picture of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi during a protest in front of Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, October 5, 2018. (photo credit: OSMAN ORSAL/REUTERS)

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later

The missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was an outspoken opponent of rumors that Saudi Arabia was considering increased ties with Israel. His disappearance while visiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul may now result in a reduction of Washington’s support for Riyadh and have repercussions that affect Jerusalem.

Khashoggi was once a powerful insider in Saudi Arabia, an adviser to the kingdom who helped craft its image abroad. However he became increasingly disillusioned with the path chosen by Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman after MBS rose to power in 2017. Khashoggi was particularly critical of Riyadh’s approach to the Muslim Brotherhood and political Islam. He felt the crackdown on more Islamist views was problematic. He also voiced consistent critique of the rumors that the kingdom was growing closer to Israel. He told Al Jazeera in November that Saudi Arabia should return to its role as a leader of the Arab world. “He deplored the authorities’ decision to allow some in the Saudi news media to express support for Israel against the Palestinians,” the article noted.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.


The Middle East Monitor asserted an Israel-Saudi relationship in an article on Thursday. “We don’t know whether or not Israel was involved in this particular kidnapping in Istanbul, but it’s certainly a valid avenue of enquiry for investigators.”

Khashoggi had recently spoken at a MEMO conference and told the BBC that the Oslo Accords were “dead.” He also said there were revelations of Saudi Arabia developing closer ties to Israel. This was related to the “Deal of the Century” being proposed by the Trump administration. “The way I read it is the Saudis want to establish a relationship with the Israelis in order to benefit from Israel’s overwhelming power in the Middle East in order to drive the Iranians out of Syria,” MEMO quoted him as saying on October 1. Khashoggi argued that the Trump deal would give Saudi Arabia a “bad name.”

This is in line with Khashoggi’s belief that Saudi Arabia’s traditional role in the Sunni Arab world was one of leadership, rooted in political Islam and also supporting the Palestinian struggle. He was also skeptical that Israel was really able to help Saudi Arabia rid the region of Iran’s tentacles.

Khashoggi, for instance, was a supporter of the rebellion against Bashar Assad’s regime. On Twitter he frequently mentioned Israel’s role in Syria, pointing out that Israel acts in its own self interest. On April 9 he tweeted that rumors that Israel had bombed Iranian forces at T-4 “was not in retaliation for Douma,” an area subjected to chemical weapons attack. “It [Israel] kills innocents everyday in Palestine,” he wrote. The point he argued was that Israel was not a worthy ally and not a reliable one. He wrote on April 29 that Israel was carrying out air raids in Syria, but that Iran and Israel would have some accommodation because Israel didn’t really want to rid Syria of Iran completely. He opposed any normalization.

Allegations that Khashoggi was murdered by Riyadh or made to have been disappeared by the kingdom has rocked Washington and led many in Congress and in major US media to criticize the Trump administration’s close relations with Saudi Arabia. This is unprecedented since the US has been a close Saudi ally for more than half a century. But the kingdom’s spats with Qatar, Turkey, Canada and other countries, including its internal crackdown, have angered its friends abroad. This gives Turkey a way to portray Saudi Arabia as on the wrong track.

JPOST VIDEOS THAT MIGHT INTEREST YOU:


For Israel’s policy makers, who have been hinting at improved relations with the kingdom over the last several years, this could pose a challenge. If the US loosens ties with Riyadh that could bring Saudi Arabia and Israel closer, as the kingdom feels isolated.

That is what happened during the Obama administration. However it could also backfire if Saudi Arabia decides to change course. With senior Trump administration officials pressuring Mohammed Bin Salman over the Khashoggi disappearance there is a growing chorus against the traditional US-Saudi ties, which have generally given Riyadh a pass on criticism over human rights and other issues.

Trump has sought to knit together a united front between Saudi Arabia and Iran. His trip to the kingdom in May 2017 was followed by a flight to Israel, a symbolic choice. These were the two pillars of Trump’s policy in the region. If things change it will affect Israel, especially in light of Turkey’s tensions with Israel in recent years.

Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>

Related Content

affa’s Onza mas- ters the combination of excellent Mediterranean food and an informal vibe
October 16, 2018
Venezuelan-American chef portrays rich blend of Jewish roots through food

By JOSEFIN DOLSTEN/JTA