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Old 12-16-2018, 06:19 PM
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Default So, I Asked People in Saudi Arabia About Their Mad, Murderous Crown Prince

So, I Asked People in Saudi Arabia About Their Mad, Murderous Crown Prince

By Nicholas Kristof
Opinion Columnist

Dec. 15, 2018

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia ó Itís awkward to find yourself in a police state interviewing people about their leaderís penchant for starving children, torturing women or dismembering critics.

The result is nervous smiles. And long pauses in the conversation.

Itís sad because on this visit, I found Saudi Arabia truly is changing under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. You feel a dynamism on the ground in Riyadh, and young Saudis are thrilled that the country finally has a bold leader trying to modernize the economy.

One businesswoman, Naha Said Kattan, told me that sheís grateful to Prince Mohammed that she could drive herself to our interview. I told her that I was delighted for her, but that it was difficult to celebrate while the prince also imprisons womenís rights leaders and reportedly has had four flogged, tortured and sexually harassed, with one attempting suicide as a result.

Another awkward silence.
Iíve been fiercely critical of the ďmad prince,Ē so I was a bit surprised to receive a Saudi visa ó apparently because I was traveling with a United Nations delegation returning from Yemen. In a reflection of the mood today, American friends seemed less concerned about my safety in rebel-held Yemen than in Riyadh.

In fact, Iíve felt reasonably safe in Saudi Arabia. Officials were respectful and courteous even when I was painfully frank. But people also seemed more afraid to speak to a journalist than before, and mingled with the oppressiveness, there was an aggrieved nationalism in the air.

Public opinion is difficult to judge in any police state in which journalists are closely watched. But my best guess is that the support here for the prince is real, with people welcoming his youthful leadership as a breath of fresh air; even in Arabic he is sometimes referred to affectionately by his English initials, M.B.S. But I refer to ďM.B.S.,Ē following the dismemberment of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi, as ďMr. Bone Saw.Ē

Ah, more awkwardness.

Senior Saudis privately accept that M.B.S. ordered Khashoggiís death but insist that the Saudi-U.S. relationship is more important than one manís life. For the sake of stability in the region, they say, America should stand by Saudi Arabia.

To which my answer is: The problem is not only that M.B.S. is a murderer, but also that he has destabilized the region, starved Yemeni children and undermined the interests of Saudi Arabia and the United States alike. Everything he touches, he breaks.

President Trump and Jared Kushner have placed their bets on the prince, and in a narrow sense they may be right. King Faisal managed to oust his incompetent predecessor, King Saud, in 1964, but I saw no sign that M.B.S. is in jeopardy of losing power.

My most interesting interaction was with a group of young professionals who believe that I am getting it all wrong.
ďI donít know why the media focuses on the bad side,Ē protested Tariq Buhilaigah, a consultant in Riyadh. Sure there have been missteps, he said, but the most important things going on are the modernization of the country and the diversification of the economy away from oil.

Felwa AlBazie, who is preparing to get her driverís license, said she doesnít know why the womenís rights activists are detained but added, ďThe big picture Iím seeing is that every woman in life benefits from driving, and women and men benefit from social progress.Ē

But modernity isnít just about cappuccinos and iPhone apps; itís also about human dignity and the rule of law. While M.B.S. is bringing social progress, heís also reckless, oppressive and brutal, and I am skeptical of his economic competence. He hasnít even been able to organize an initial public offering for Aramco.
Trumpís bizarre defense of the prince reflects what has been wrong with the U.S.-Saudi relationship. It has become all transactional. The Saudis have treated us like body guards, and we have treated them like gas station attendants.

I suspect the real reason Trump and Kushner embrace M.B.S., aside from the hope that he will back their Middle East peace plan, is business: the belief that Saudis will invest in their personal real estate projects for decades to come.

The truth is that as Saudi Arabiaís significance as an oil producer diminishes, we need Saudi Arabia less. In 25 years, if weíre freed from the tyranny of imported oil, we may not need it at all.

Some Saudis kept trying to suggest to me that if we block weapons sales to Riyadh, the kingdom will turn to Moscow. Thatís absurd. It needs our spare parts and, more important, it buys our weapons because they come with an implicit guarantee that we will bail the Saudis out militarily if they get in trouble with Iran.
Saudi Arabiaís armed forces canít even defeat a militia in Yemen, so how could they stand up to Iran? Thatís why we have leverage over Saudi Arabia, not the other way around.

Letís use that leverage. The next step should be a suspension of arms sales until Saudi Arabia ends its war on Yemen, for that war has made us complicit in mass starvation.
What is your opinion?
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Old 12-16-2018, 06:56 PM
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Default Re: So, I Asked People in Saudi Arabia About Their Mad, Murderous Crown Prince

Originally Posted by saltwn View Post
What is your opinion?
Here's my opinion...

In 2011, Anwar al-Awlaki was an American-born, American citizen who spouted threats against America both home and abroad...President Obama, deciding he needed to be erased, and without consent, notice, or due process, KILLED Anwar al-Awlaki, and his American-born, American citizen son, 16-year-old Abdulrahman al-Awlaki with a drone strike in another country (Yemen) while they were eating dinner in an outdoor restaurant...

The media & Democrats (and a few Republicans) gave him a free pass...

In 2018, Jamal Khashoggi was an Saudi-born, Saudi citizen who spouted threats against Saudi Arabia both home and abroad...The Saudi Crown Prince, deciding he needed to be erased, and without consent, notice, or due process, KILLED Jamal Khashoggi by enticing him into a Saudi Embassy in another country (Turkey)...

The same media & Democrats (and a few Republicans) are demanding a pound of flesh...

Hypocrisy knows no bounds...

"Why do you see the speck that is in your brotherís eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?" - Matthew 7:3
"You get the respect that you give" - cnredd
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