Khashoggi case: sanctions against Saudi Arabia?

Turkish investigators strongly suspect that missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered by Saudi agents. Saudi Arabia has threatened with reprisals if economic sanctions are imposed on the Kingdom. But such sanctions are vital, commentators urge, and ask why the issue of punishing Saudi Arabia has only come up now.

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Die Presse (AT) /

A red line for the crown prince

If it turns out that the Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was behind Khashoggi's disappearance, sanctions must be imposed, Die Presse argues:

“Yielding is not an option. That would only encourage someone like the young and impulsive de facto ruler in Riyadh. In the summer hardly any Western states backed the Canadians when the Saudis announced diplomatic and financial reprisals in retaliation for Ottawa's criticism of the arrest of women's rights activists. Governments from Berlin to Washington must now also fear for their multi-billion dollar arms deals if they come down too hard on the Saudis. Nevertheless the crown prince apparently needs a red line, one that must be clearly drawn should evidence of Khashoggi having been murdered come to light. Otherwise the only value holding the West together will be indifference.”

De Volkskrant (NL) /

All of a sudden Saudi Arabia is a pariah state

Commenting on Western criticism of Saudi Arabia, columnist Sheila Sitalsing asks in De Volkskrant why the kingdom is being dropped now of all times:

“Of all the evil regimes, Saudi Arabia is perhaps the one that is the best tolerated by us here in the free West. The regime hacks off heads and hands. It treats women like underage breeding machines. It cracks down mercilessly on people who protest against such treatment. ... And it's responsible for war crimes and a humanitarian disaster in Yemen. Yet all of that hardly bothered us in the past, for two reasons: oil and the war against the IS. ... But Khashoggi's disappearance was apparently one crime too many.”

The Guardian (GB) /

Rule of law breaking down

The case shows how values are being debased across the globe, The Guardian writes:

“It reflects a more general loss of respect for international law and for the much-battered, much-lamented 'global rules-based order'. … Khashoggi's disappearance shows what can happen when the primacy of the law breaks down, and far from fighting to restore it, democratically elected leaders and governments connive in, or turn a blind eye to, the dictators and despots who are responsible. Similarly blatant outrages are occurring every day, and every day go unpunished.”

De Telegraaf (NL) /

Free rein thanks to Erdoğan and Trump

Thanks to two heads of state Mohammed bin Salman is clearly under the impression that he can get away with completely unscrupulous behaviour, De Telegraaf comments:

“The crown prince feels reinforced by President Trump, whose first visit to a foreign country after taking office was to Saudi Arabia. Former American diplomats point out that thanks to Trump Salman feels he has free rein to do as he likes. Like his Turkish counterparty Erdoğan, the American president has made hardly any critical statements about Khashoggi's disappearance. Both need Saudi Arabia politically and financially.”

Star (TR) /

Not even concerned to cover their tracks

Khashoggi's kidnappers or murderers are sending a message to someone with what they have done, Star is convinced:

“Their behaviour shows that they didn't even try to avoid making mistakes. Or in other words, they deliberately didn't cover their tracks. ... No secret service (and we now know that the 15 Saudi citizens who landed at Atatürk airport on 2 October were secret service agents) is as sloppy as this. This is what is called 'professional sloppiness'. ... This murder is not just about the disappearance of a dissident. It also contains a message. ... What that message is, the target country and its leaders will assess and then prepare an appropriate 'plan of action'.”

La Repubblica (IT) /

A tragedy for Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia will be isolated if the allegations turn out to be true, Thomas L. Friedman, columnist for The New York Times, writes in an opinion piece in La Repubblica:

“If Jamal was kidnapped or killed by agents of the Saudi government this will be a disaster for Mohammed bin Salman, and a tragedy for Saudi Arabia and all the countries in the Arabian Gulf. It would be an inexplicable violation of the norms of human dignity. What Western leaders would want to side with Mohammed bin Salman if it is shown that his government kidnapped or assassinated Jamal?”

The Guardian (GB) /

Regime's brutal approach to dissent

The journalist's disappearance is another signal from the Saudi crown prince that he will not tolerate any internal opposition, The Guardian comments:

“Developments in the kingdom over the past year follow a clear pattern. Since the ascension of Mohammed bin Salman to the position of crown prince and de facto ruler, Saudi Arabia has entered an era in which internal dissent - no matter who is behind it - is met with brutality. … Alongside this, the Saudi state has painted itself as the only legitimate orchestrator of change in the country. … Whatever the ultimate fate of Khashoggi, Saudi Arabia's new zero-tolerance approach to dissent is being broadcast loud and clear.”

Yeni Şafak (TR) /

Also an attack against Turkey

This case must not remain without consequences, warns the pro-government daily Yeni Şafak:

“President Erdoğan personally is following the case. The public prosecutor's office has launched an investigation and all the security forces are working diligently. ... At the same time Turkey is trying to find a strategy for how to proceed if the murder is confirmed. If it is, the authorities will have to react seriously and with resolve. Because this is an attack that damages the credibility, image and responsibility of the Turkish state vis-à-vis foreigners. ... Khashoggi's death already looks like an operation carried out to put Turkey under pressure and end the relations between the two countries anyway.”