Today marks the fifth anniversary of the brutal assassination of Jamal Khashoggi, a prominent journalist who devoted his life in defense of human rights and his country.
On this day five years ago, Jamal Khashoggi went into the Turkish consulate of his country in Istanbul to get some documents for his marriage to Turkish Hatice Cengiz, who was waiting for him outside. Jamal Khashoggi never left, neither alive nor dead. He was killed and had his body severed with a bone saw. His remains vanished without being given to his family, who were denied the right to a final goodbye and a burial.
Khashoggi’s murder sparked a wave of international outrage and harsh criticism. Amidst calls for a boycott, foreign investors started to pull their money out of the nation. Since US intelligence investigations into the incident have confirmed the Crown Prince’s involvement in the incident, the US administration, led by Joe Biden, has promised to make Khashoggi’s killers—most notably the Crown Prince—pay a heavy price.
Such statements and positions gave strong hope that Khashoggi’s rights would be restored and that the killers would face justice. But over the past five years, all hope for justice has been lost.
A few months later, nations started to work with the Saudi government again under Mohammed bin Salman’s (MBS) leadership. MBS offered numerous financial temptations and pumped millions of dollars into these nations as investments, whether through business ventures or sportswashing. MBS, who is in charge of a nation regarded as one of the largest oil exporters in the world, benefits from the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Many nations, led by the US, decided to forgo their commitment to human rights in exchange for access to cheap energy sources.
Cooperation with MBS went beyond routine diplomatic relations. For instance, the United States granted MBS sovereign immunity in November 2022 to shield him from testifying in court during civil lawsuits. As a result, the court rejected Hatice Cengiz’s lawsuit against MBS, in which she accused him of organising and taking part in the assassination of her fiancé, Jamal Khashoggi. The decision was preceded by MBS’s appointment as Prime Minister, making him eligible to benefit from sovereign immunity.
The United Kingdom invited MBS to visit the country next fall, making it his first trip since Khashoggi’s murder, in spite of all the crimes and violations the Saudi regime has committed both at home and abroad, particularly in Yemen using British-made weapons.
The UK invitation is a blatant and explicit violation of human rights, and it serves as a green light for MBS and his regime to commit even more heinous crimes with total impunity. This also makes the UK a partner in these crimes.
This visit demonstrates that, in international negotiations, human rights are no longer a central concern and are instead prioritized below economic and commercial interests. Well-informed sources confirmed that Saudi Arabia is attempting to win the UK’s support to host Expo 2030 in Riyadh in November. The UK, on the other hand, is negotiating a free trade agreement with the Gulf Cooperation Council nations—of which Saudi Arabia is a significant member—and is anxious to keep the Saudi government as Europe’s main partner.
The UK invitation came amid an intense criticism of Saudi Arabia’s sportswashing efforts to conceal its human rights violations, including its purchase of Newcastle United, the recruitment of international athletes for the Saudi league, and the Saudi Arabia-funded PGA and LIV golf tours.
The international community failed to hold the Saudi government accountable for Khashoggi’s murder or any other heinous crimes. Most nations are still committed to working with Saudi Arabia’s leadership and giving it the necessary diplomatic and military support.
We emphasise the need to halt all international cooperation with the Saudi regime until the improvement of the human rights situation in the Kingdom, the release of political prisoners, the opening of investigations into the abuses committed against opponents and their families at home and abroad, and an end to Yemen war.