Weekly Letter to the President
Copyright © 2017
ofthisandthat.org. All rights
INAUGURATION, January 20, 2009
Drunk in its stale air
For two hundred years.
Fettered in mind and body,
The soul, the safe escape
To let me breathe the cries
Of my heart singing
Tears of mel-an-choly.
The tears flow free today
Washing the stains of blood
And sweat in brotherhood.
Raise the curtain then an'
Let the world look in
On this promised land --
We breathe free today.... almost.
--- Arshad M. Khan
We will be known forever by the tracks we leave.
--- Native American proverb
February 26, 2021
Mr. President: It was October 2, 2018 when a man walked into the Saudi Arabian
consulate to collect some documents he needed for his impending marriage. He had
been there earlier on September 28, and had been told to allow a few days for them
to prepare the needed proof of divorce from an earlier marriage.
So there he was, a critic of the present regime in Saudi Arabia. His Turkish fiancée
had accompanied him and he asked her to wait outside as it would only take a minute
or two. She waited and waited and... waited. Jamal Khashoggi never came out.
What went on inside is a matter of dispute but US intelligence prepared a report which
should have been released but was illegally blocked by the Trump administration. Mr.
Trump is no doubt grateful for the help he has had over two decades from various
Saudi royals in addition to the business thrown his way at his various properties. "I
love the Saudis," says Donald Trump and he had kept the report under wraps. It has
now been released by the new Biden administration.
All the same, grisly details of the killing including dismemberment soon emerged
because in this tragic episode, with an element of farce, it was soon evident that the
Turks had bugged the consulate. There is speculation as to how the perpetrators
dispersed of the corpse but they themselves have been identified. Turkish officials
also claim to know that they acted on orders from the highest levels of the Saudi
government. They arrived on a private jet and left just as abruptly.
The egregious killing led to the UN appointing a Special Rapporteur, Agnes
Callamard. She concluded it to be an "extra-judicial killing for which the state of the
kingdom of Saudi Arabia is responsible." She added, there was "credible evidence"
implicating Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and other senior officials.
Now the US report. Intelligence agencies conclude Jamal Khashoggi was killed by a
Saudi hit squad under the orders of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. They add
that the latter has had unitary control over Saudi security and intelligence
organizations and thus it was "highly unlikely" an operation of this nature would have
been possible without Prince Mohammed's authorization.
Mr. Biden's reaction is plain. Although the Crown Prince is the de facto ruler with his
father the King's acquiescence, Mr. Biden has not talked to him. He called the king
and emphasized the importance placed on human rights and the rule of law in the US.
President Biden is also re-evaluating US arms sales to the Kingdom with a view to
limiting them to defensive weapons -- a difficult task as many can be used for both, a
fighter-bomber for example.
There are also calls for sanctions against the Crown Prince directly but Biden has
ruled that out. Saudi Arabia is after all the strongest ally of the US in the region, and
no president wants to jeopardize that relationship. Moreover, the US has done the
same sort of thing often enough; the last prominent assassination being that of the
senior Iranian general, Qassem Soleimani, by the Trump administration.