Cal Thomas: The Jamal Khashoggi scandal

NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Thursday, October 18th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from member-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Next up, Cal Thomas weighs in on the growing scandal over missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

CAL THOMAS, COMMENTATOR: Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi’s apparent death in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul has rightly sparked outrage globally and united disparate political factions in the United States.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman claims he wants to modernize and reform his country. But he’s now widely suspected of ordering a Mafia-style hit on one of his sharpest critics.

Despite adamant denials, it’s hard to explain away the presence of a forensic man with a bone saw that Saudi officials brought to Istanbul the day of the disappearance. Several media outlets on Tuesday also identified four of the men thought to have carried out the hit on Khashoggi as bin Salman’s associates. If that’s true, it will be much harder for the crown prince to continue denying any knowledge of whatever happened to Khashoggi.

President Trump and Turkish President Erdogan have promised severe repercussions should bin Salman be proved complicit in Khashoggi’s disappearance. Vice President Mike Pence said the U.S. would hold accountable whoever orchestrated the apparent killing.

PENCE: We’re going to demand answers. The world deserves answers. And the president and I and our administration are going to continue to call for answers to see that those responsible are held to account.

U.S. lawmakers also demanded action. Speaking on Fox and Friends earlier this week, Senator Lindsey Graham used the “S” word—sanctions—and all but demanded the Saudi government choose another leader.

GRAHAM: We deal with bad people all the time. But this is in our face. I feel personally offended. They have nothing but contempt for us. Why would you put a guy like me and the president in this box, after all the president has done? This guy’s gotta go.

Graham directed his ire specifically at bin Salman and was careful to make a distinction between Saudi Arabia the country and the man calling the shots. He noted the Saudis have been good U.S. allies but called bin Salman a “wrecking ball” who could never be a world leader.

The political realities of the Middle East make it unlikely the U.S. would ever sever ties with Saudi Arabia. But perhaps the right amount of pressure will encourage the country’s monarchy to reconsider its current trajectory. It would be well-served to take a course that encompasses the reforms bin Salman began while embracing other values he didn’t. Free speech and the freedom to dissent would be a good place to start.

In Jerusalem, for WORLD Radio, I’m Cal Thomas.

(AP Photo/Hasan Jamali, File) In this Feb. 1, 2015, file photo, Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi speaks during a press conference in Manama, Bahrain. 

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