American reactions condone Saudi actions

Rushil Byatnal and Laura Hennawi

When news came out Oct. 2 that Jamal Khashoggi, an overt critic of the Saudi Arabian government and a prominent Washington Post journalist, was murdered by the Saudi government after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, the public outrage was immense. Khashoggi was a figure of free speech in the Middle East, and his murder symbolizes the pervasive political suppression in the Arab world. Despite the blatant transgression, the United States has not and will not do anything to fix it. The Trump administration should quickly change their policy on the issue, and tarnish their strong relationship with Saudi Arabia.

For two weeks in October, Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi Crown Prince, denied any involvement in Khashoggi’s death, claiming it wasn’t a murder. But later, when a state television broadcast claimed his death was a murderous “rogue operation,” bin Salman and the government promised to find and punish those responsible. However, according to The Washington Post, the Central Intelligence Agency used intercepted phone calls to confirm in November that bin Salman directly ordered the killing, proving all of Saudi Arabia’s past claims to be false. What does this mean for the strong economic and political relations between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia?

This is not Saudi Arabia’s first instance of human rights violations. The country has a long and recent history of oppression. A well-known example is the egregious living situation for women, living under male guardianship, where all decisions are made by a male family member or spouse. Although a law in June permitted women to drive cars for the first time, they can not do so without male authority. Saudi Arabia’s injustice was also displayed when the state of Israel was founded in 1948, banning any Jewish people from entering the country, including diplomats and workers, simply because of religious belief.
Saudi Arabia is notorious for its human rights violations, but what has the Trump administration done about Khashoggi’s murder? According to a statement made by President Donald Trump on Nov. 20, the U.S. will not pursue any action against bin Salman or the country. Saudi Arabia’s strong oil-dependent economy is crucial to this country. If the U.S. were to impose sanctions on Saudi Arabia, they would likely export less oil to America. This would severely raise gas prices, along with the costs of all products that travel by road.

Trump’s decision shows a fallacy in the country’s ideals. Economic benefit should not be placed on a level higher than human rights. It is purely immoral. The U.S. assisted in the formation of the United Nations, and has always held a belief in democracy and humanitarianism. But these beliefs, founded on American exceptionalism, are abandoned when money is dangled in front of politicians’ eyes. According to the New York Times, in the ongoing Yemen war, often termed as the worst humanitarian crisis in the world, Saudi Arabia has been using American bombs to harm rebel groups, frequently targeting innocent civilians as well.

Jamal Khashoggi’s murder was different than Saudi Arabia’s other various transgressions; the public response worldwide sent tidal waves of criticism towards the United States for its immoral inaction. The U.S. should avoid such blatant incongruity by imposing sanctions on Saudi Arabia and condemning them for their cruel behavior towards American ideals.