Khashoggi knew all about power and danger. Almost a quarter of a century ago, he turned up at my hotel in Khartoum and drove me into the Sudanese desert to meet Osama bin Laden
The Independent Voices
I knew just what Jamal Khashoggi’s murder really meant in the context of the Middle East last week when I realised just who I’d have to call to explain it to me. Whom would I telephone to learn what was going on? Why, of course, I’d call Jamal Khashoggi. And that’s why his murder is so important. Because he was, as he knew, a lone and important Arab journalist who did not listen – not any more — to His Master’s Voice. And that, of course, was his problem.
This disgusting, dangerous, frightening, dirty murder – and don’t tell me a man of 60 who dies in a “fistfight” with 15 men isn’t murder – shows not just the Saudi government up for what it is, but it shows us up for what we are, too. How come we keep falling in love with Arab states – Israel does this, too – and then cry out with shock when they turn out to be extremely unpleasant and very violent?
To answer this question, there are already several clues. Trump’s initial reaction that the Saudi story was “credible” – when it clearly was not – was a start. Then the murder became “the worst cover-up in history”. It was the quality of the murder that was troubling him, you see. These chaps didn’t know how to cover their tracks. He had already blurted out that he didn’t want to give up US arms sales to Saudi Arabia. We had our own beloved prime minister referring to Jamal’s gruesome murder as a “killing”, rather than a murder. Then – and this was indicative because it was not contradicted – we had Adel Al-Jubeir, the Saudi foreign minister, referring to the murder as a “huge and grave mistake”. “MISTAKE”. Let me repeat that. MISTAKE!
Al-Jubier, the former Saudi ambassador in Washington who was once reported to have himself been the intended victim of a would-be murderer in the US, was lecturing the press a year ago on how in its war in Yemen, Saudi Arabia “abides by international humanitarian law”. But not, it seems, by international diplomatic law. But hold on a minute. Al-Jubier – and I used to know him quite well many years ago – is a very eloquent and well-educated man. His English is flawless. When he used the word “mistake”, it was not a mistake. What he meant – what I think he meant – was that Jamal Khashoggi should not have been killed.