Starting with saying, "the world is a very dangerous place," U.S. President Donald Trump released an official statement this week on why the White House is standing with Saudi Arabia after veteran Saudi journalist and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi was brutally murdered at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. Trump ended his statement reiterating that we live in a very dangerous world, he stated that his intention is to pursue America's national interests by "vigorously contesting countries that wish to do it harm."
The statement was more like a series of Trump's tweets, very far from the White House standards that we are familiar with. Trump openly said that the U.S. needs Saudi Arabia's money, reminding us that "the kingdom agreed to spend and invest $450 billion in the U.S.," $110 billion of which is "to be spent on the purchase of military equipment from Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and many other great U.S. defense contractors."
We have known that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) coalition war in Yemen was backed by the U.S., but the U.S. president has just publicly stated how it works. It is only business for him; an arms trade that has helped the coalition cause the world's worst man-made disaster, in exchange for a record amount of money that will supposedly bring huge wealth for the U.S. That is why he can ignore the crimes and human rights violations. Think about what a U.S. president would say if a state with less money or oil had been involved in such a crime. We can be sure that he would have preached as the leader of the free world and defender of democracy, and would say that this crime would not remain unpunished. If what is happening between Riyadh and Washington is not bribery, then what is?
The war in Yemen has not only been the job of the U.S.-backed Saudi-UAE alliance but the Iran-backed Houthis have also played their part very well; however, most of the damage in Yemen has come from the airstrikes of the Saudi-UAE coalition and the bombing of civilians, which are potential war crimes. The Saudis have the upper hand to end the conflict, which has also turned into a humiliating mess for the kingdom since they are not able to win, although they spilled a fortune for a victory. Riyadh's position in Yemen is like that of Tehran and Moscow, Syrian butcher Bashar Assad's backers in Syria; however, it also has never shown any intention of wanting peace.
Khashoggi wrote many times about Yemen and called on Riyadh to stop. In one of his columns dated Dec. 5, 2017, he said, "The world is watching Yemen; not only should the Saudis stop the war, but there should be pressure for the Iranians to stop their support for the Houthis; both sides must accept a Yemeni formula to share power," implying that the Saudis have allies in the West to resolve the conflict. Or, in one of his recent columns, dated Sept. 11, 2018, he wrote: "The longer this cruel war lasts in Yemen, the more permanent the damage will be. The people of Yemen will be busy fighting poverty, cholera and water scarcity and rebuilding their country. The crown prince must bring an end to the violence and restore the dignity of the birthplace of Islam."
Blaming Iran as the only responsible party in Yemen, saying that Tehran is there for a bloody war against Saudi Arabia, Trump hinted in his very strange statement that the Saudis would not withdraw from Yemen unless Iran leaves. Trump also maintained distance with Saudi Arabia's accusations against Khashoggi, claiming that he was "an enemy of the state" and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, which are baseless and ridiculous; however, he was very reluctant to find out who gave the order for this horrific murder.
He just added a very little note on the long-awaited CIA assessment over the involvement of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Khashoggi's murder, repeating that he might have knowledge about it or might not. Even after the elections, it looks like Trump wants to stay away from the Khashoggi case as much as he can. He said recently that he didn't want to listen to the audio recording, the most important evidence that reveals how Khashoggi was killed at the consulate. He stated that the U.S. has already sanctioned 17 Saudis involved in the murder and the disposal of his body, as if it was enough, showing that he doesn't want to lose Saudi Arabia, as he needs their money.
But there are plenty of senators, who look like they do not agree with Trump, and they are pushing for tougher sanctions against the Saudi kingdom, such as reducing arms sales to Riyadh and stopping the support for Saudi warplanes in Yemen. The U.S. president said in his statement that they are free to do so; however, he insisted that his priority will be the absolute security and safety of America, which sounds like more money to our ears, despite what Congress presents to him.
We still don't know if we will ever learn the details of the crown prince's involvement in this case in the end. Also, we can't be sure that the CIA, the most powerful intelligence agency in the world, will share what it has and be willing to reveal the truth. But it's clearer today that Trump sees Riyadh as a bag of money that he doesn't want to leave and that he will turn a blind eye to all human rights violations by the kingdom, no matter how boldly the Saudi crown prince is in trying to secure his place, whether through a bloody war in Yemen or the monstrous killing of Jamal Khashoggi.