Elliott Abrams, who served as deputy national security adviser under President George W. Bush, said the disappearance and reported murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi will spark irreparable damage to Saudi Arabia unless that nation’s government acts quickly and honestly.
His comments came in a column posted Wednesday in The Washington Post.
“Since the emergence of the current government under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, critics (including Khashoggi) have argued that its central characteristic and greatest flaw was despotism: one-man rule by the young crown prince,” Abrams wrote.
Defenders of the new regime have argued in essence that MBS, as the crown prince is known, is in the traditional and positive sense of the term an “enlightened despot.”
But he added: “The alleged killing of Khashoggi is a death blow to all those hopes and expectations, unless the Saudis can somehow explain what happened and accept full responsibility."
He also noted the reported killing of Khashoggi came just weeks after “the bizarre Saudi overreaction" to criticism from Canada about human rights.
He said the Saudis’ actions included bringing home their ambassador from Canada and expelling the Canadian ambassador in Riyadh.
“Saudi Arabia is and will remain for a very long time an absolute monarchy,” he noted. “What the crown prince must grasp is that his entire modernization program, indeed every defense of his own personal power, is undermined by what all the evidence suggests was a carefully planned murder.
"Jamal Khashoggi lost control of his fate when he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Mohammed bin Salman must act quickly to regain control of his own."
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