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Opinion | If a Prince Murders a Journalist, That’s Not a Hiccup

Category: Diplomatic Relations,Politics

In fairness, he did allow women to drive. But he also imprisoned the women’s rights activists who had been campaigning for the right to drive. Saudi Arabia even orchestrated the detention abroad of a women’s rights activist, Loujain al-Hathloul, and her return in handcuffs. She turned 29 in a Saudi jail cell in July, and her marriage has ended. She, and not the prince who imprisons her, is the heroic reformer.

Just last month in London, unidentified Saudi men, one wearing an earpiece, attacked a Saudi dissident named Ghanem al-Dosari, who has mocked M.B.S. as “the tubby teddy bear.” As they punched Dosari, they cursed him for criticizing the Saudi royal family.

“M.B.S.’s message to Saudis is clear: I will shut you up no matter where you are and no matter what laws I have to break to do it,” Sarah Leah Whitson of Human Rights Watch told me.

The crown prince showed his sensitivity and unpredictability in August when Canada’s foreign ministry tweeted concern about the jailing of Saudi women’s rights activists. Saudi Arabia went nuts, canceling flights, telling 8,300 Saudi students to leave Canada, expelling the Canadian ambassador and withdrawing investments. All for a tweet.

Western companies should back out of M.B.S.’s Future Investment Initiative conference later this month. That includes you, Mastercard, McKinsey, Credit Suisse, Siemens, HSBC, BCG, EY, Bain and Deloitte, all listed on the conference website as partners of the event.

We need an international investigation, perhaps overseen by the United Nations, of what happened to Jamal. In the United States, we also must investigate whether Saudis bought influence with spending that benefited the Trump family, such as $270,000 spent as of early 2017 by a lobbying firm for Saudi Arabia at the Trump hotel in Washington. The Washington Post reported that Saudi bookings at Trump Chicago increased 169 percent from the first half of 2016 to the first half of this year, and that the general manager of a Trump hotel in New York told investors that revenues rose partly because of “a last-minute visit to New York by the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia.”

If Saudi Arabia cannot show that Jamal is safe and sound, NATO countries should jointly expel Saudi ambassadors and suspend weapons sales. The United States should start an investigation under the Magnitsky Act and stand ready to impose sanctions on officials up to M.B.S.


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