Saudi FM: Justice for Khashoggi is a Saudi demand before it is an international one

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir addresses a news conference in the desert kingdom's capital Riyadh on November 15, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 20 November 2018
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Saudi FM: Justice for Khashoggi is a Saudi demand before it is an international one

  • Anyone seeking justice for Khashoggi should provide evidence they have to Saudi judiciary, says Al-Jubeir
  • King Salman and his crown prince a ‘red line’ for Saudi people, Saudi FM reiterates

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir has reiterated that the authorities in the Kingdom are more determined than those in any other country that the people guilty of killing Jamal Khashoggi should be held to account.

The death of the Saudi journalist, who was killed in the Kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, provoked international outrage. Al-Jubeir said that the pursuit of justice for the slain journalist is first and foremost a Saudi demand, ahead of any call for action from other countries.

In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, the minister said Saudi Arabia was investigating the case because it involved a Saudi citizen, and that anyone with information should contact the Saudi judiciary and pass it on. Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor is seeking the death penalty for five of 11 suspects so far charged with murdering journalist.

The Kingdom’s top diplomat also talked about the strong links between the Saudi leaders and their people. He said that any attack on the Kingdom’s leadership, represented by King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, represents a red line and there will be no tolerance of any moves against the leadership or for “any attempts to undermine...our leadership by anyone, under any pretext.”

Where does Saudi diplomacy stand today, after the unprecedented attack on the Kingdom in light of the murder of Mr. Khashoggi?

A: First I would express my deepest condolences to the family of Jamal Khashoggi – may God rest his soul.

As for Saudi diplomacy, Saudi Arabia is a leading country, not only in the Arab and Islamic worlds, but also internationally. Saudi Arabia has always been a bulwark for peace, stability and prosperity in the region and the world. It has always confronted and defeated the forces of evil and destruction. Therefore, and due to what this diplomacy represents, Saudi Arabia stands on firm ground and has a well-founded position, whatever the circumstances and challenges. As for the attacks on the Kingdom after the terrible crime that led to the death of Jamal Khashoggi, the Kingdom’s leadership ordered the public prosecutor to investigate the case and hold all the culprits accountable. Consequently, the Public Prosecution sent the culprits to court. King Salman ordered the formation of a committee headed by the Crown Prince to supervise the procedures in the General Intelligence Presidency and restructure this body to ensure that such crimes will not occur in the future. The Kingdom has taken all necessary measures to achieve justice and hold accountable all those involved in the murder of Saudi citizen Jamal Khashoggi. As for the media campaigns and attempts to politicize this case, those that stand behind these efforts and their motives are now exposed, especially after the transparent announcement of the results of the investigations and the referral of the matter to the courts. Throughout history, the Kingdom has been the target of many media tendentious campaigns, and different sources and arguments were used to undermine the role of the Kingdom and its position.

The United States imposed sanctions on a number of persons. How do you evaluate the US sanctions on the case and how do you see the future of Saudi-US relations?

A: Our relations with the United States are strategic, and we have common and vital interests in terms of the security and stability of the region and the world. The Kingdom’s leadership is keen on maintaining and promoting the strategic relations and the historic partnership with the US, which has spanned over more than seven decades. We also appreciate the interest of the US government and the positions of friendly countries around the world regarding the issue of Jamal Khashoggi and their support for the procedures taken by the Kingdom and its leadership to ensure justice and accountability. As for the imposed sanctions, they were sanctions against individuals and were not targeted at the Kingdom’s government or economy.

How do you see the Turkish statements that highlighted the importance of an international investigation into this case?

A: We reject any attempts to politically exploit Khashoggi’s case, and those who seek justice should submit the evidence they have to the Saudi judiciary, the sole competent body in this case.

In light of the Turkish position, which apparently sought to politicize the issue, how do you see the future of Saudi-Turkish relations?

A: We appreciate the positive Turkish attitude towards the formation of the Joint Task Force. The Kingdom cooperated with the Turkish side, and the Saudi Public Prosecution asked its Turkish counterpart to provide any detailed evidence through three memoranda. Unfortunately, the Public Prosecution has not yet received the requested evidence. We hope that the Turkish authorities will provide the Public Prosecution with the evidence related to the case to be referred to the court. I would like to emphasize that the legal measures that were taken, ensure justice and accountability and thwart any attempts to politicize the case.

As you know, Saudi Arabia and Turkey are two important countries in the Islamic world, linked by historic ties. Unfortunately, some statements made by some individuals in Turkey do not serve this purpose, but rather, they strain these ties. We in Saudi Arabia, do not want this to happen because it will hinder us from addressing important issues, most notable of which is the solidarity of the Islamic World. The Kingdom has put the case of Jamal Khashoggi in its legal framework and it won’t accept any politicization of this issue, because it does not serve the ties between Saudi Arabia and Turkey, nor does it serve cooperation among Islamic countries.

What is your position on the Turkish statements, which stressed that a senior Saudi figure ordered the killing of Khashoggi (in an indirect reference to the Crown Prince)?

A: We have already inquired from the Turkish government – at its highest levels – about these statements and their meaning, and they affirmed that these statements were not made in reference to the Crown Prince. We have informed them that if they have any evidence, they should provide it to the Public Prosecution. we have heard many statements regarding this but the Public Prosecution said that no evidence was presented so far. Our goal is to collect all information and evidence on this issue for the sake of the investigations; and to prevent media influence that does not serve the interest of justice, which is a requirement for all of us.

I would like to highlight here that the Saudi leadership represented by King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, is a redline and we will not tolerate any attempts to undermine our leadership from any party under any pretext, because they represent every Saudi citizen.

But media reports in the United States indicated that the US intelligence assessment is that the Crown Prince issued the order. What is your response to this?

A: I have seen the media reports that you are referring to, they are leaks that have not been officially announced, and I noted that they are based on assessment and not conclusive evidence. In all cases, we, in the Kingdom, know that such allegations about the Crown Prince are completely not true and we totally reject them; whether such allegations are made through leaks or otherwise. We also saw how some stories stating that the Saudi ambassador to the United States, Prince Khalid bin Salman contacted Mr. Khashoggi before the latter went to the Consulate, and this is also not true at all and has been firmly refuted, which points to the conclusion that the sources of these leaks are not reliable.

Saudi Arabia has pledged to conduct full and transparent investigations to uncover the truth of the killing of Jamal Khashoggi. The Public Prosecution presented the results of its investigations last Thursday. How do you assess the international reaction to the results of the investigations?

A: The Kingdom has not investigated the death of Jamal Khashoggi for the sake of international public opinion. We investigated it because it is a crime that was committed against a Saudi citizen. This is unacceptable and those who committed the crime must be held accountable. The Public Prosecution announced the preliminary results and that the investigations are still ongoing. The outcome of the investigation so far was enough to indict 11 individuals and refer them to court. There are still investigations with the rest of those in custody. The trial will move forward according to the evidence and confessions obtained.

Achieving justice in this case is a Saudi demand before being an international one, especially that the crime was compounded by the fact that those people presented a false and misleading report about what happened at the Consulate that day.

More than 45 days have passed since the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, yet the location of the body is still unknown, amid conflicting stories and information about what actually happened... Do you know the truth about that?

A: The Public Prosecution issued a statement last Thursday on the results of the investigation based on the evidence and confessions that were obtained. It also confirmed that the investigation is still ongoing. It is important to note that the cooperation of the Turkish side and the provision of their evidence will help in reaching the truth. As the Public Prosecution had stated, its findings are based on its investigations and it hopes that the Turkish side will present all the evidence in their possession.

This brings us back to the subject of the story presented by the Kingdom about the truth of what happened, which has changed several times and the international media shed a light on this point. Is this the final version?

A: What happened was as follows: those who carried out the crime presented a misleading and false report, and accordingly the story was denied. When conflicting reports became apparent that contradicted the information they presented in their report, King Salman ordered the Public Prosecutor to conduct an investigation, which resulted in the preliminary findings that were first announced by the Public Prosecutor. As the investigations continued, and sufficient evidence and confessions were gathered to refer the matter to court; the Public Prosecutor announced the results of his investigation and indicted a number of individuals and referred them to court. Should the investigation uncover any new evidence the Public Prosecution will announce that in a transparent manner.

The Turkish president announced that his country has presented sound recordings to a Saudi intelligence official? Is it true that you have listened to the recordings of Ankara?

A: The Public Prosecution has announced that they did not receive any evidence from the Turkish side, and we hope that the Turkish authorities will provide whatever evidence in their possession, including any recordings, so that the Public Prosecution could provide such evidence formally to the courts. What we seek is to obtain any evidence to achieve justice in this case, in a transparent manner.

Do you fear any repercussion on defence contracts and equipment with some countries? What options do you have in this regard, especially since you are still involved in the war in Yemen and working to confront Iranian threats from your territory?

A: The Kingdom is committed to defend its land, its borders and its people against any regional threats. We always prefer to procure our defence requirements from our traditional allies; as this also contributes to the strengthening of our strategic relations. However, the Kingdom’s responsibility to defend its land and people requires that we secure the necessary defence capabilities regardless of the source.

To what extent will the death of Jamal Khashoggi affect the Kingdom’s relations with its partners around the world, especially in light of what is being circulated on the imposition of sanctions on the Kingdom?

A: The Kingdom’s relations with its partners around the world are strategic and important in terms of facing common challenges and maintaining security and stability in the region and the world. The Kingdom’s partners around the world appreciate its role and position. We are in constant contact with our partners and the Kingdom was the first to take action against the suspects in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, followed by other countries that imposed measures on some individuals in a way that does not affect the strategic relations or common political and economic interests for Saudi Arabia and its allies.


90-year anniversary: How the Arab world came to know Tintin and Popeye

Updated 18 January 2019
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90-year anniversary: How the Arab world came to know Tintin and Popeye

  • Middle Eastern fans fondly look back at two comic icons who share a birthday this year, although they’re not without controversy
  • An Egyptian publisher printed Tintin in Arabic, while Popeye was broadcast on Saudi Channel 2 and Spacetoon

Popeye, the scruffy sailor who remains one of the most loveable characters of all time, has been a popular fixture in Middle Eastern pop culture since the early 1980s. In addition to mountains of merchandise, particularly stuffed toys, being available in local shops, the cartoons were broadcast on Saudi Channel 2 (in their original English) and on Spacetoon (with Arabic dubbing). 
“I remember the first time I watched Popeye,” Zainab Basrawi, a 36-year-old insurance lawyer and self-professed Popeye enthusiast, told Arab News. “I learned to love spinach just from watching him save Olive every time. I believed him. I think he was a great influence on children to subtly ease them into eating their greens.”
Just one week after Tintin first appeared in “Le Petit Vingtieme,” Popeye made his debut on Jan. 17, 1929 as a side character in the daily King Features comic strip “Thimble Theatre.”
Created by the American cartoonist Elzie Crisler Segar, the one-eyed sailor with bulging forearms quickly grew in popularity, becoming the star of his own strip, an animated TV cartoon and a 1980 movie starring
Robin Williams. The theme song from the cartoon, “I’m Popeye the Sailorman,” is one of the most recognized pieces of music in pop culture history.
Compared to boyish, clean-cut, good- natured Tintin, Popeye is his polar opposite.
The sailor is rough, gruff and extremely tough, famous for the super-strength he gets from eating canned spinach, and his never-ending love triangle with his girlfriend Olive Oyl and rival Bluto.
Like Tintin, as a relic from another era, Popeye has also been criticized for racial stereotypes. In “Popeye the Sailor Meets Ali Baba and His Forty Thieves,” he is shown beating up poorly made caricatures of Arab men. In “You’re a Sap, Mr. Jap,” the Japanese characters in the cartoon get the same treatment.
However, literary critic Sophie Cline said the comic strip is reflective of the time it was created in, almost a century ago. “I think it’s important not to ignore these pieces of our history, or hide them away, but rather to own up to our mistakes and learn from them,” she told Arab News.
She alluded to the new disclaimer that now precedes old Looney Tunes cartoons, informing viewers that their outdated “racial prejudices” no longer reflect Warner Bros. values but are “products of their time.”
“Popeye cartoons reflect the common view of the era,” she said. “A disclaimer should be enough.”

Tintin, one of the world’s most famous fictional journalists, traveled the world seeking stories and adventure, so he naturally spent a good amount of time in the Middle East.
Created by Belgian cartoonist Georges Remi, better known by his pseudonym Herge (say his initials in reverse out loud in a French accent), Tintin travels the region in four of his books: “Cigars of the Pharaoh,” “The Crab with the Golden Claws,” “Land of Black Gold” and “The Red Sea Sharks.”
Tintin gained more of a foothold in the region when Egyptian publisher Dar Al-Maarif began printing the comics in Arabic in 1971. Renaming him “Tantan,” Dar Al-Maarif continued to publish the comics weekly
until 1980.
“Tintin has been one of my idols for as long as I can remember,” said Haytham Faisal, a journalist from Cairo. “I literally became a journalist because I wanted to be him. My dad used to take me to buy the comics from the local bookstore. I remember them being so expensive, so they were a rare treat. I’d always think twice before buying them, but I couldn’t always wait for the next comic to see what new story they have next. I still have some of them, they were that precious to me.”
Before appearing in book format, Tintin and his constant companion, the dog Snowy, were first introduced to audiences in “Le Petit Vingtieme,” or “The Little Twentieth,” a supplement to the Belgian newspaper “Le Vingtieme Siecle” (The Twentieth Century) on Jan. 4, 1929. Herge, however, maintained that Tintin was actually “born” on Jan. 10, when “Tintin in the Land of the Soviets” began its serialization in the paper.
Despite the fact that he never seems to hand in any stories, the loveable and quirky Tintin is portrayed as talented at his profession, so much so that he is shown to be in high demand, with many press agencies offering him bribes for his dispatches.
Over the years, Tintin’s face has been used to advertise quintessentially French items such as Citroen cars and La Vache Qui Rit cheese. Enthusiasts of Tintin lore, known as Tintinolo- gists, have written entire books devoted to him.
Since 1929, more than 250 million copies of the Tintin comic books have been sold. His adventures have been translated in more than 110 languages, and the books are sold in almost every country in the world.
Tintin continues to grow in popularity, even 90 years on. He was the star of a full-length feature film, directed by Steven Spielberg, in 2011 and of an animated television series. The latter was broadcast on Saudi Channel 2 between 1991 and 1992 and a dubbed version has been on MBC 3 since 2003.
However, the history of Tintin has not been without its hiccups. Over the years, critics have argued that, like many of the comics of the era, it should undergo censorship or even outright banning from bookstores and libraries. One of the more troublesome ones is his second adventure, “Tintin in the Congo.”
The natives Tintin visits are crude stereo- types of African people, who are portrayed as ignorant and uneducated, and the references to slavery, such as when the natives refer to Tintin as “master,” make the comics hard to stomach.
Similarly, “Land of Black Gold,” which takes place in a fictional Red Sea state named Khemed, is also banned in several Middle Eastern countries today for its stereotypical portrayal of Arabs.
While some argue the comics are simply byproducts of their era, they are nonetheless somewhat difficult to revisit in the modern era. Attempts have been made to soften some of the references, with edits being made to “Tintin in the Congo” in 1975, but is that enough?
Not according to the London-based human rights lawyer David Enright, who wrote in the Guardian newspaper that “Tintin in the Congo” shouldn’t be sold to children. “Books are precious, but so are the minds of young children. It is vital that our children learn and explore the grotesque history of slavery, racism and anti-Semitism, but in the proper context of the school curriculum.”