It doesn’t take much ‘tea-leaf-reading‘ expertise to see the delicate position the United States is in with Saudi Arabia. Currently, President Trump is trapped in the cross-hairs over the apparent gruesome death of Washington Post reporter Jamal Khashoggi.
Several factors are causing President Trump’s tight-rope walking. The first being that Jamal Khashoggi was a world-renowned Arabic Journalist who had long been reporting on the oppressive leadership by the Saudi Royal Family. Khashoggi unvarnished descriptions of the Saudi government’s tyranny had most likely led to his murder at the Saudi Consulate office in Turkey.
A couple of excerpts from his last column in the Washington Post were published today.
“Arab governments have been given free rein to continue silencing the media at an increasing rate,” he charged in the piece titled, “What the Arab world needs most is free expression.“
“There was a time when journalists believed the Internet would liberate information from the censorship and control associated with print media,” Khashoggi wrote. “But these governments, whose very existence relies on the control of information, have aggressively blocked the Internet. They have also arrested local reporters and pressured advertisers to harm the revenue of specific publications.”
America from time beginning has believed in “Freedom of the Press.” According to Turkish officials
(this is fluid and still developing), Khashoggi was lured to go to the Consulate Office where he was ambushed by a Saudi hit squad under the direction of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.
This brings up President Trump’s second issue. How does he signal to the world that America will not tolerate the abuse of freedom of the press, and moreover how does he perform retribution (if the facts bare out) for the cold-blooded murder of an American resident?
President Trump so far has remained fairly quiet on the murder of Khashoggi. He has sent Secretary of State (who is returning today) Pompeo to Turkey and Saudi Arabia to find out what he could about the incident. However, Trump did comment on oil, where Saudi Arabia responded with threats of dramatically increasing the price of a barrel to as high as $200. This would effectively drive prices at the pump to as high as $10.00 a gallon in some areas of the United States. This action would almost drive America into an instant recession and possibly worse.
The problem that Trump has is this. Saudi Arabia has been a long-term ally of the United States. Not so much because we like them or they like us, but moreover because of strategic needs, not to mention the overabundance of oil. The Saudi Royal Family rules the nation with an iron fist up to and including ruling from fundamentalist religious teachings. Remember, it is in Saudi Arabia where up to just recently, women were not even allowed to drive a car. If a woman is raped, then she falls under religious laws (taken from the Koran) about how this is dealt with. More often than not, that victim is charged with adultery rather than a rape victim.
Another problem for the United States is that the Pentagon and White House just cleared the Saudi government for purchasing over $110 Billion worth of military hardware. Between Saudi’s proximity in the region, oil, human rights abuses and their extreme wealth, President Trump has a very tight rope to walk. A $20-Billion dollar contract for fighter jets is huge for an American military contractor. Now the President has that company to deal with if the contract is canceled.
The $64 question now becomes, how does the President spank Saudi Arabia for murdering an American resident journalist without embarrassing the Kingdom to the point where they rape the United States by canceling contracts and jacking up the price of oil to where it punishes us financially?