The problematic Saudi relationship

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Saudi Arabia’s top prosecutor Saud al-Mojeb reacts to journalists as he boards a plane to leave Turkey, in Istanbul, Wednesday, Oct, 31, 2018. A top Turkish prosecutor said Wednesday that Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was strangled as soon as he entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul as part of a premeditated killing, and that his body was dismembered before being disposed of. A statement from chief Istanbul prosecutor Irfan Fidan’s office also said that discussions with Saudi chief prosecutor Saud al-Mojeb have yielded no “concrete results” despite “good-willed efforts” by Turkey to uncover the truth.(DHA via AP)

Over the last month we have seen horrific news trickle out of Turkey. A United States permanent resident from Saudi Arabia, Jamal Khashoggi, was brutally murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, where he entered to obtain marriage certificates. The moment he entered the embassy, he was strangled to death, his body was cut up into pieces with a bone-saw and his remains were disposed of in a yet-unknown fashion. Khashoggi worked as a journalist for The Washington Post, was a frequent critic of the Saudi government and he has three children who are U.S. citizens. It has been hypothesized that this murder was ordered by the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed Bin Salman of the House of Saud.

The response from the current administration has been lackluster. Officials such as Vice President Mike Pence said Khashoggi’s death “will not go without an American response.”

Yet what action has the U.S. government taken against Saudi Arabia in response? While human rights abuse is common in Saudi Arabia, the fact that a resident of the U.S., a journalist with citizen children, was murdered in cold blood is absolutely horrific. Imagine if your parent was killed by a foreign government. You would likely want your government to respond in a tangible manner.

Shockingly, we are still going through with a $110 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia. These weapons will likely be used against Yemeni civilians as Saudi Arabia continues to devastate Yemeni population centers to help one of the factions in the Yemen Civil War. These Saudi airstrikes target schools and hospitals, killing 166 civilians a month.

The fact U.S. weapons are being used to target civilians is against our American values as a whole, as is our willingness to look away when nations commit human rights abuses. When Americans recite the Pledge of Allegiance, we pledge our allegiance to a nation “with liberty and justice for all.” The pledge does not state that liberty and justice is only for American citizens. It is in our interest, and the world’s interest, to promote the values of liberty and justice across the globe. By not punishing Saudi Arabia for this behavior and continuing to provide them with billions of dollars worth of weapons, we serve only to hurt our image and the spread of these values.

The best way to start would be to end the arms deal. This arms deal does nothing but assist our relationship with an authoritarian government. This would be a great first step in showing the Saudis they need our support more than we need their support. For a government that has substantial links to those who carried out the September 11th attacks, we give them plenty of leeway with how they conduct themselves on a global stage.

This needs to end, and the U.S. needs to hold not only Saudi Arabia, but all oppressive regimes which we do business with, accountable. No other nation has this ability other than the U.S. and it is our responsibility to take action and practice what we preach. Anything less would be an injustice to those across the globe who suffer daily as a result of oppressive government rule.


Cameron Cantelmo is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at cameron.cantelmo@uconn.edu.

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