Exaggerations around the case of the late Jamal Khashoggi
Many governments and institutions were led to take harsh stances against Saudi Arabia when it came to the case of the late Jamal Khashoggi. There is no doubt that these stances will have a cost, and Saudi Arabia is paying a price today.
However, despite critical positions and withdrawals, Saudi Arabia will still maintain its extensive role and relations, and will continue to exert its regional influence. The Kingdom’s relations will be affected but surely not disrupted, as these relations are driven by the supreme interests of other states and not just by Saudi Arabia.
Saudi oil is indispensable, essential and the most widely distributed in world. Also, Saudi geopolitical influence in the region cannot be disregarded because geography is an indisputable reality in politics. Furthermore, Saudi religious influence cannot be overlooked as it is the Qibla of more than a billion Muslims. Moreover, the Saudi regional role cannot be ignored given that the region is divided into two main axes, and the Kingdom’s crucial support for many countries and institutions cannot be supplied by others.
In brief, weakening Saudi Arabia will only lead to more unrest and instability in the region.
Of course, the disappearance of Khashoggi was definitely shocking at first, but what is now more shocking are the campaigns targeting Saudi Arabia. While demanding that the case be investigated is only normal, preempting these investigations with sanctions, withdrawals and political boycotts is not.
We can understand that the international community evaluates and classifies countries according to different standards. This is especially true given that Saudi Arabia is held accountable based on its good reputation, and what is expected from such a reputable country, cannot be the same as from the regimes in Tehran or Damascus.
Although these standards do not take into account the wild nature of our region and the serious ongoing conspiracies, they would have been within the limits if the case had not been overstated and turned into such a worldwide predicament.
While demanding that the case be investigated is only normal, preempting these investigations with sanctions, withdrawals and political boycotts is not.
If we exclude the criminal side — if there is one — we will see that the issue of the late Khashoggi has been overstated to the extent that even some of those who disagree with Saudi Arabia have become skeptical about the purposes of these campaigns.
Most likely, this excessive exaggeration in politicizing the case and attacking the Kingdom, with the resulting confusion between several cases, will push many countries and institutions that are subject to these pressures to take a stance of solidarity with Saudi Arabia. The case will turn against those who lead and fuel the battle against Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia has a strong political system and such attacks cannot affect it. Given the significance of Saudi oil to the global economy, the Kingdom’s geopolitical importance and its great religious influence, this will be a losing battle for the parties that wanted to politicize Khashoggi’s case, in order to weaken and exclude Saudi Arabia. There will be a hefty price for everyone.
On a regional level, weakening Saudi Arabia would weaken its allies in the region; and will strengthen Iran, Hezbollah, the Houthi militias, Al-Qaeda and Daesh.
These are the expected results if the pressure campaigns against Saudi Arabia continue, as these campaigns will lead to strengthening the forces that the world wants to weaken.
Therefore, it is not surprising to see that the extremist forces and their allies in the region are exploiting Khashoggi’s case, and are adding fuel to the fire that could potentially reach the whole region.
In my opinion, this exaggerated attack and the overexploitation of the late Khashoggi’s case by anti-Saudi axes, will ultimately reach a dead end, as they have become unreasonable and unacceptable.
Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is a veteran columnist. He is the former general manager of Al Arabiya news channel, and former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Twitter: @aalrashed