After Khashoggi himself, the main loser from the murder most foul in Istanbul is US President Donald Trump – as I predicted here weeks ago. His declaration that the Saudi cover story was “credible” as the rest of the world laughed at the “Lady MacBeth” of it merely made him ridiculous. The behavior of his own “crown prince” – his son-in-law Jared Kushner – has been more venal than comic-opera.
As I predicted, despite the Clinton family’s own exposure to Saudi largesse, the Democrats and their vast media hinterland have adopted the killing of Khashoggi as their new casus belli displacing their running out of steam “Russiagate” narrative (in fact the people who filled the American airwaves with Russophobic hatred for the last two years are now throwing their hands up in horror at Trump – Putin’s puppet remember – declaring a new nuclear arms race, against Russia).
From Uber to Facebook from JP Morgan to Virgin scores of withdrawals have hit the “Davos in the Desert” jamboree and the kingdom “is in crisis” as the Saudi Energy minister just publicly conceded.
That much is self-evident and an easily predictable ending to the short brute lethal tenure of the Saudi Caligula which has murdered thousands in Yemen in Syria in Saudi Arabia itself and which is surely close to its end.
In the West the scene is like watching cockroaches scattering when the light comes up suddenly and unexpectedly. Nowhere is this a more ugly sight than in the UK.
In the 1980s I was sent on a parliamentary mission to Saudi Arabia, under the leadership of Tory grandee Sir Francis Pym later Lord Pym, earlier the Foreign Secretary of Britain before that office became cheapened by mediocrity and a distinct lack of class. There had been some turbulence in British-Saudi relations which threatened to disturb the vastly profitable and deeply corrupt Al Yamamah arms deal.
“Soft soap dear boy, soft soap,” Sir Francis told me was our purpose. A liberal application of soft soap. “Can’t apologize…mustn’t apologize,” he added (I told you it was an era of greater class) but lay the soft soap on thick was our battle orders.
We met the then Saudi king and most of the important princes; Sir Francis was a master at work. He never apologized but boy, did he lay it on thick. It worked and the dirty business of milking the old fools in power in Riyadh was resumed.
Of course, British profits were even then a mere fraction of the American bounty a gap which has only grown larger over the next thirty years. And different too, no longer just guns but butter, technology, media, movies, leisure (who knew Disneyland was a Saudi-playpark) and tourism.
Literally thousands of Western media outfits and their hirelings have been corrupted by Saudi gold. Think-Tanks, “Institutes” of all kinds even Britain’s natural history museum have been revealed to be on the take from the House of Saud. It was the latter’s bad luck that when the music stopped with the murder of a Washington Post columnist and the dismemberment of his body the very same night the Saudi Embassy was holding a soiree in one of their august halls.
The irony of the Creationist Kingdom sipping mocktails in the house that Charles Darwin built wasn’t missed by many. Newspapers and magazines which had grown fat on overt and covert Saudi sponsorship, advertising revenues and sweetheart arrangements are now shocked! Shocked! in the manner of the corrupt Vichy police chief on “discovering” there was gambling going on at Humphrey Bogart’s Rick’s Café in the movie “Casablanca”.
No-one has U-turned more sharply than the Saudi Crown Prince’s chief PR man in the West, Thomas Friedman of the New York Times.
Appearing with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour Friedman seemed like a man on the edge of a nervous breakdown. All those tens of thousands of words wasted on a common criminal like Mohammed bin Salman. Never mind, it was richly remunerative whilst it lasted, Tom!
As Oscar Wilde said on the Death Scene in Charles Dickens “Little Nell” – “you’d have to have a heart of stone not to laugh.”
Most devastating though has been the corruption soon to be unmasked in the political class itself.
When the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn tabled a motion earlier this year to halt British arms sales to Saudi Arabia pending an inquiry into the use of the weapons in the bloody war on Yemen, it could well have passed. But for the betrayal by more than 100 Labour MPs on his own side. Gay Labour MPs sided with those who throw gays off buildings. Feminist Labour MPs sided with those who abjure even mediaeval standards of women’s rights. Democrats siding with the very desert of liberty freedom and democracy. I was suspicious, even puzzled at the scale of Saudi support within the Parliamentary Labour Party. Soon, I think, everything will be a lot more clear.
This story will run and run.
As for now, the “Custodians of the Two Holy Mosques” to give the Saudi royals their Friday name are faced with burying the face of Jamal Khashoggi, a man who whatever his differences at the margin with Saudi policy supported the head-chopper army Saudi funded in Syria right up until the point his own head was severed from his shoulders. A man who wrote a Washington Post op-ed entitled “It is time to divide Syria” was himself divided into parts by the architects of the failed severing of Syria.
Even Shakespeare couldn’t have written that story.