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The Cost and Consequence of the Khashoggi Crisis

The Cost and Consequence of the Khashoggi Crisis

Sunday, 21 October, 2018 - 09:45
Abdulrahman Al-Rashed
Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad.

I had written this article before Saudi Arabia made its announcement of the death of fellow colleague Jamal Khashoggi. We had a glimmer of hope that he would emerge unscathed. The announcement of the details and punishments that targeted senior security officials and a top security agency will force everyone into two camps. One that wants to punish those involved and move on to a new phase and others who want to exploit the case and use it against Saudi Arabia.

Several governments and institutions used the Khashoggi case to adopt severe stances against Saudi Arabia. There is no doubt that the crisis cost the Kingdom a lot. Despite the stances, withdrawals and ongoing media assault, the Kingdom will remain a pivotal and influential country that enjoys vast relations and its regional clout will remain.

It will be affected, but it will not come to a halt.

Primarily, there can be no abandoning Saudi oil. This is a lifeline for the global economy. Moreover, its geopolitical role in the region cannot be ignored. Geography is the constant truth in the world of politics. Saudi Arabia’s religious influence also cannot be eliminated as it is the spiritual center of over a billion Muslims around the world. In addition, Saudi Arabia’s regional role cannot be eliminated. Firstly because the region is divided between two main rival camps and secondly, because it is a financier of several regional institutions.

In short, weakening Saudi Arabia will increase hardships and failure in the region.

After we were first shocked with Khashoggi’s disappearance, we became shocked with the campaign against Saudi Arabia. We can understand demands for an investigation, but not to the extent of threatening to impose sanctions. We understand that the international community ranks countries according to importance. Saudi Arabia boasts the best reputation in the region and this is the first crisis it encounters since the 1970s. Expectations are therefore much higher from it than from Tehran or Damascus.

Setting aside the criminal aspect of the case, we have all seen how the Khashoggi crisis was exaggerated to such an extent that even the differing sides in Saudi Arabia have started to question the purpose of the campaign. It is likely that the excessive politicization and attack against the Kingdom will push several countries and institutions to voice solidarity with Saudi Arabia until the truth is revealed. The campaign will backfire against those directing it against the Kingdom.

Saudi Arabia enjoys a strong political system that will not be affected by attacks. Those seeking to politicize the affair and weaken and eliminate Saudi Arabia will ultimately wage a losing battle.

The price will be high should the pressure remain. Regionally, weakening Saudi Arabia will consequently weaken forces that support its approach. It will also empower Iran, “Hezbollah,” al-Qaeda, the Houthis and ISIS. These are expected results.

It is not unusual for the extremist powers and their allies in the region to abuse the Khashoggi case and fan its flames. This is why I have said that going overboard in the attack, exploitation and exaggeration will backfire against the instigators.

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