L’affaire Khashoggi

L’affaire Khashoggi

News:

  1. Recently Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi disappeared which has triggered a diplomatic storm.

Important Facts:

  1. About Jamal Khashoggi:
  • He was a journalist who was once a Saudi government insider, but had gone into self-imposed exile in the U.S. in 2017.
  • He’d become an outspoken critic of the Saudi Arabia’s powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS).
  1. About the diplomatic crises:
  • An uproar was created over the disappearance and possible killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
  • A video footage outside the Saudi consulate in Turkey revealed that journalist Jamal Khashoggi visited the consulate for a divorce certificate, and left safely, but has not been able to offer any evidence for this.
  • The Washington Post, for whom Khashoggi was a frequent contributor in its Global Opinions sections, has reported that U.S. intelligence officials intercepted communications of Saudi officials “discussing a plan to capture him.”
  • Turkish media has published the names of 15 Saudi nationals who travelled to Istanbul the day Khashoggi disappeared. The individuals were military and intelligence officials, including a forensic expert etc.
  1. Implications of crises:
  • The Crown Prince has launched a series of social reforms in Saudi Arabia, including allowing women to drive. But at the same time, the ultra-conservative Islamic kingdom has cracked down on dissent, arresting critics and human rights campaigners.
  • The controversy is particularly damaging for Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), who spent millions to project himself as a social and economic reformer who could lead Saudi Arabia into the 21st century.
  • Chief executives of some of the potential big-ticket investors, including JP Morgan, Blackstone and BlackRock, have already pulled out of an investment conference due to be held in Riyadh
  • next week, which MBS is expected to address.
  1. Impact on Saudi relations with other countries:
  • Turkey and Saudi Arabia are rivals for influence in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia calls allegations that it killed Jamal Khashoggi lies.
  • Even U.S. President Donald Trump, a strong backer of the kingdom’s 33-year-old Crown Prince, warned of “severe punishment” if Riyadh was found to be responsible for the disappearance of the journalist.
  • US Congress has been critical of the Saudi prince and his government in urging the Trump administration to take a harder line on the Saudi Arabia.
  1. India’s case:
  • The principle of national interest can run into conflict with respect to other higher principles especially in democracies such as India. However India is conscious of the advantages by emphasising on its national interest agenda.
  • For example, it recognises its dependence on West Asian energy sources and not to interfere in their internal matters unless they vote against us in meetings of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, or side with Pakistan on the Kashmir issue.
  • India also enjoy advantage of being a big arms purchaser. The U.S., France, Russia all have only one interest in India i.e. to sell their extremely expensive war material. It is unlikely that these countries would impose penalties in case India does something that might not fit in with their agenda, either vis-à-vis Iran or Russia.
  1. Way forward:
  • Any delay in letting the world know the truth about Mr. Khashoggi will only make matters worse for the kingdom, which is already known for its poor human rights record, including on MBS’s watch.
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