U.S. silence is disheartening in light of Saudi journalist’s suspicious death

The death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi has dominated news headlines since the case came to light on Oct. 15. Despite statements from the Saudi government claiming his death was a random casualty during a “rogue operation,” international media has provided information that strongly indicates the crown prince and Saudi government ordered Khashoggi’s killing. 

With foreign media and governments, primarily Turkey, taking a stand against the perceived injustices, the passive stance from the United States is disappointing. 

Khashoggi, an American permanent who was a well-known Saudi dissident and columnist for The Washington Post, was reportedly killed under mysterious circumstances inside of the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. 

Confusion casts doubt over the government’s version of events which have changed over time. Initially, the Saudi government stated that Khashoggi had left the consulate building, but then later modified its statement, claiming that he had been injured in an altercation inside of the consulate, according to the The New York Times

International media organizations have reported their suspicions over the involvement of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and subsequent cover-up of Khashoggi’s death. The Saudi government claims its senior intelligence officials did not know of the events beforehand, according to BLANK. 

The U.S. response to these troubling events has been very underwhelming. President Trump described Saudi Arabia’s statements regarding Khashoggi’s death as “all over the place,” but still commended Mohammed bin Salman for his “very good control” over the situation. 

Trump took the opportunity to emphasize the important economic ties between the two countries. 

“He’s a strong person. He has very good control.” Trump said, according to The Washington Post. “He’s seen as a person who can keep things under check, I mean that in a positive way.

At a time when major U.S. allies including the U.K., French and German foreign ministers have demanded a clearer explanation from Saudi Arabia regarding the events, the U.S.’s disappointing passive role in demanding justice and truth. 

As a country that prides itself on protecting human rights around the world, it’s disheartening to see potential injustices occur in countries of no interest to the U.S., or in enemy territory, such as Russia or China. The U.S. speaks up and disguises its intent as genuine care for the wellbeing of the people around the world, but when it comes to its allies or countries of economic importance, the government remains silent. 

This isn’t to say that the U.S. should immediately be suspicious over Saudi Arabia’s government and declare foul play, but it should objectively seek the truth and justly sanction the bad actors involved. 

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany said her country will halt weapon exports to Saudi Arabia until they clarify further. The United Nations Secretary General and the European Union all made statements clarifying in one way or another that they were troubled by the country’s response to this occurrence.

The only countries praising Saudi Arabia are its local allies, including the UAE, Egypt, Bahrain and Jordan. It’s interesting how Washington quickly condemns Muslim countries for their archaic and traditional Islamic values, but fails to respond to real-time issues in the face of economic interest and opportunity. 

Americans should question where the loyalty of their government lies. Economic interest will undoubtedly always be important, but it’s also necessary that as a country, we don’t crown ourselves the champions of human rights in the face of such blatant hypocrisy.