There has been a lot of speculation about the possible reasons that led the Saudis to kill Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, but one thing which has remained constant is the understanding that his falling out with the Saudi administration took place because of his criticism of crown prince Mohammed bin Salman. But now, a major report issued by the State Department seems to suggest that Khashoggi’s problems first arose not because he criticized the Saudi leadership, but because he criticized Donald Trump.
Jamal Khashoggi was forced to flee the middle eastern nation in 2017 after he reportedly feared for his life because of his writings. He moved to the United States and began writing for the Washington Post last year, with many of his columns arguing that the social reforms that Mohammed bin Salman was so keen to project to the western world were actually masking the Wahhabi nation’s continual practice of choking dissent. But according to Newsweek, it was not his direct criticism of Mohammed bin Salman which was at the root of his first troubles, but a column that he supposedly penned for the Saudi newspaper Al-Hayat, which never saw the light of day due to political pressure. It was six months after he wrote this column that Khashoggi fled Saudi Arabia.
The column had seen the journalist questioning Trump’s contradicting geopolitical stands. While the American president pledged that he would be a bitter rival to Iran during his election campaign, Trump’s support for Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and Russian president Vladimir Putin was completely at odds with what he was preaching.
“The expectation that Trump as president will be starkly different from Trump as candidate is a false hope at best,” Khashoggi wrote in his column, before calling his foreign policy stances “contradictory.”
“When his advisers show him the map, will he realize supporting Putin means supporting the Iranian agenda?”
Turkey's foreign minister has accused President Trump of turning a blind eye in the high-profile murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a day after the US leader doubled down in his defense of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman https://t.co/mKzXO5DMEp pic.twitter.com/WFqSTN6mWq— CNN (@CNN) November 23, 2018
The report suggests that this could have been the final straw which convinced the Saudi leadership that Khashoggi was a dangerous dissenter. As reported, Khashoggi was stifled because of his criticism of Trump’s contradictory policies.
“The journalist was banned from writing and speaking publicly after he pointed out the perceived incoherence of Trump’s positions,” the report says.
The revelation could go a long way in explaining why Trump has been so hesitant to acknowledge the role Mohammed bin Salman allegedly played in Khashoggi’s murder, even as the CIA has concluded that the crown prince was responsible for the journalist’s death. While Trump has played down the murder citing the financial gains the United States reaps from Saudi Arabia, the truth behind his support of MBS could be down to a darker, more sinister truth.