Think Piece – Fuck The Saudis
In the wake of Jamal Khashoggi’s Leatherface-style murder, stop whitewashing Saudi Arabia.
The hardcore, clumsy as heck hit on Jamal Khashoggi lifts the lid on the House of Saud. Hopefully the sands will shift.
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The tissue of lies has led American strategists and top execs to reexamine the US-Saudi axis. We should heap praise on a few honorable business leaders like Virgin’s Richard Branson, tech investor Steve Case and Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, who have categorically rejected the rag-heads’ Future Investment Initiative (FII), a hyped-up investment conference that opened in Riyadh earlier this week (attended by a clique of desperados from Russia, Asia and the Gulf). So much for ‘Davos in the desert.’ LOL, fuckers. Art-wise, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Brooklyn Museum announced they won’t use Saudi subsidies any more to fund art projects. And one of the largest think tanks in D.C., Brookings, promised to sever ties with the sadistic regime. Good riddance. Many PR firms from LA to London are doing the same.
But the Trump team’s knee-jerk response was to gloss over the Saudi shadiness, perpetuating the decades-long pattern of Faustian/Frankenstein U.S. foreign policy. Not only did Trump express doubt about the allegations of Saudi involvement in the conspiracy and cynically suggest the monarchs were presumed “guilty until proven innocent,” he also reiterated the point that the Royal Fam skirted all culpability: the phantasmagorical idea that the murder was the work of a team of ‘rogue’ operatives. Even after finally accepting intel reports that Jamal is likely hacked up and dissolved in a vat of sodium hydroxide, Trump insisted that “[Saudi Arabia has] been a very good ally and they’ve bought massive amounts of various things and investments in this country, which I appreciate.” The POTUS is prioritizing the strategic and biz alliance over principles. That seems chancy, and really expedient.
This shines light on the ‘amoralism’ — the abandonment of all ethical standards — at the heart of the U.S.-Saudi chumminess. Trump, like his predecessors, is no moral exemplar when it comes to dealing with the twisted, two-faced turban heads; a reprobate regime comprised of young tribal brats and old dingbats who act inimical to our Enlightenment ideals of reason, individualism, freedom and secularism.
Despite the shiny, modern veneer, the Saudi clan is fucking cruel, freaky, barbaric and medieval. That is true despite Mohammed bin Salman’s superficial stab at ‘reforms’ – the same MbS who married his first cousin (gross!) and personally dispatched a fumbling, foolhardy 15-man hit squad to rub out Jamal Texas Chainsaw Massacre-style. In terms of ‘reforms’, women are now allowed to attend soccer games, go to the cinema, and, brace yourself, drive a car. Yay. Maybe that’s what compelled Sinead O’Connor to convert to Islam. Weirdo.
Washington’s ‘strategic condominium’ with Saudi Arabia is irrational, despite Trump’s currying favor with the Kingdom‘s despotic camel jockeys (evidently the Saudis snatched up the entire 45th floor at Trump World Tower in NYC a while back). It basically betrays our ideal of freedom and sells out the victims — the Saudis who truly appreciate freedom and fight for it — while enabling the rank regime that enslaves them. It also undermines our interests.
America should welcome and promote real socio-political reform on the Arabian peninsula. And we should demand it from our sketchball client state – we sponsor them, after all. Plus, Saudi’s vast petro-wealth is a function of Western ingenuity: America (and Britain) first discovered oil in Dammam in the 1930s, paving the way for Riyadh’s endless riches, systematic kleptomania and outright hubris. And don’t forget who invented the internal combustion engine, the technology that made the oil industry relevant in the first place. It wasn’t the Saudis.
Saudi Arabia is a totalitarian monarchy that depends on the blessing of Islamist clerics (barf) and ‘the Great Devil Kafir’ (America) for its legitimacy. The regime distinguishes itself along lines of universally punitive Islamic law (‘sharia’ – yuk), public executions, underwriting extremist vehicles (Salafi Wahhabism, madrassas and more), prosecuting a bloody, heart-wrenching war of attrition in Yemen – now the worst place ever on the planet, according to Human Rights Watch; and subjugating women. Oh, don’t forget that 15 of the 19 hijackers on 9/11 were Saudi citizens – all exponents of a depraved and retrogressive culture.
Censorship is pervasive: there are thoughts, ideas and beliefs that must be deleted from your mind, forbidden to even contemplate. There’s actually a ‘vice squad’ in Saudi known as the Muṭawwi, or religious police. Jamal Khashoggi’s career trajectory illustrates the point. He was both a journalist and an advisor to leading members of the royal family, but even when he was a consummate insider, he had no freedom of speech. Khashoggi decided to live in self-imposed exile in the West (he was living in Virginia, of all places), and in his last column for the Washington Post, he lamented the absence of intellectual freedom in the Arab world generally and Saudi Arabia in particular. He called the crown prince a “naive boy.”
Or consider the fate of Raif Badawi, a Saudi blogger, who dared to agitate for socio-political reforms. Chief among his grumblings were the taboo issues of free speech and a separation between religion and state. Badawi narrowly escaped the death penalty: instead he was sentenced to 1,000 lashes, a $250,000 fine, and 10 years in the slammer, where he is rotting today.
Saudi girls (i.e. half of the population) are subjugated in a system of ‘gender apartheid.’ Under the so-called ‘guardianship laws’, women may not go outside without a male chaperone, known as a guardian. The guardian is usually a male relative — a husband, father, brother, even a son. In public, women are required by law to wear religious headcovering – hijabs and burqas – barfff; they’re also generally expected to wear baggy black gowns that obscure their figures (God forbid a sexy silhouette and a wandering eye). Saudi women are dehumanized and sartorially tortured. Fashion there is true ‘anti-fashion.’
The wider conspiracy — premeditating the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi and prevaricating like a deranged criminal on crystal meth — is that the American intelligentsia, our political leaders, the foreign policy establishment, etc. (yeah, you, Jared Kushner!) evade the nefarious nature of the monarchy and basically whitewash it. The notion that we must embrace Saudi Arabia as an ally to repulse Iran and roll-back Shia expansionism is a load of codswallop. We can crush both states, overturn their two-timing psychotic governing elite, eviscerate their apocalyptic spiritual leaders (the clerics and the mullahs who push for global jihad) and pummel the obsolete ethos and movements that underpin their barbaric ‘Islamic civilization.’
Jamal Khashoggi’s murder is one more tragic illustration of Saudi Arabia’s Orwellian and offensive nature (at VIVISXN we don’t even like Khashoggi – he was sympathetic to many things we despise, like the Islamic Brotherhood and was buddies with Osama bin Laden back in the day). But it was wrong to butcher him in such a blasé way. Perhaps finally the American leadership – under Donald Trump & Co. – can re-calibrate the wicked relationship and skew it favorably toward freedom, reason, reciprocal engagement and American values. We expect the US Congress (props to Lindsey Graham and Marco Rubio!) to hit the royal towel-heads with the Magnitsky Act and a range of limited sanctions any time now. But more draconian measures must follow. President Trump: we hope you are reading this! And MbS: watch your back, kid. Get up to scratch on Jamal Khashoggi’s last stuff here.
Images Wikimedia Commons + Al-Watan + الوطن
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