While he described Saudi Arabia as, in the past, “a good ally,” Mr. Graham said “there is a difference between a country and individual. The MBS figure to me is toxic. He can never be a world leader on the world stage…This guy has got to go.”
.. Mr. Graham said he “can never do business with Saudi Arabia again until we get this behind us.” Mr. Graham described the crown prince as a “wrecking ball.”
While he described himself previously as Saudi Arabia’s “biggest defender” in the Senate, Mr. Graham said the alleged murder of Mr. Khashoggi made him “feel used and abused.”
Frankly, it’s a disgrace that Trump administration officials and American business tycoons enabled and applauded M.B.S. as he
- imprisoned business executives,
- kidnapped Lebanon’s prime minister,
- rashly created a crisis with Qatar, and
- went to war in Yemen to create what the United Nations calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis there.
Some eight million Yemenis on the edge of starvation there don’t share this bizarre view that M.B.S. is a magnificent reformer.
.. Trump has expressed “great confidence” in M.B.S. and said that he and King Salman “know exactly what they are doing.” Jared Kushner wooed M.B.S. and built a close relationship with him — communicating privately without involving State Department experts — in ways that certainly assisted M.B.S. in his bid to consolidate power for himself.
The bipartisan cheers from Washington, Silicon Valley and Wall Street fed his recklessness. If he could be feted after kidnapping a Lebanese prime minister and slaughtering Yemeni children, why expect a fuss for murdering a mere journalist?
.. M.B.S. knows how to push Americans’ buttons, speaking about reform and playing us like a fiddle. His willingness to sound accepting of Israel may also be one reason Trump and so many Americans were willing to embrace M.B.S. even as he was out of control at home.
In the end, M.B.S. played Kushner, Trump and his other American acolytes for suckers. The White House boasted about $110 billion in arms sales, but nothing close to that came through. Saudi Arabia backed away from Trump’s Middle East peace deal. Financiers salivated over an initial public offering for Aramco, the state-owned oil company, but that keeps getting delayed.
.. The crackdown on corruption is an example of M.B.S.’s manipulation and hypocrisy. It sounded great, but M.B.S. himself has purchased a $300 million castle in France, and a $500 million yacht — and he didn’t buy them by scrimping on his government salary.
.. In fairness, he did allow women to drive. But he also imprisoned the women’s rights activists who had been campaigning for the right to drive.
Saudi Arabia even orchestrated the detention abroad of a women’s rights activist, Loujain al-Hathloul, and her return in handcuffs. She turned 29 in a Saudi jail cell in July, and her marriage has ended. She, and not the prince who imprisons her, is the heroic reformer.
.. The crown prince showed his sensitivity and unpredictability in August when Canada’s foreign ministry tweeted concern about the jailing of Saudi women’s rights activists. Saudi Arabia went nuts, canceling flights, telling 8,300 Saudi students to leave Canada, expelling the Canadian ambassador and withdrawing investments. All for a tweet.
.. Western companies should back out of M.B.S.’s Future Investment Initiative conference later this month. That includes you,
- Credit Suisse,
- Bain and
all listed on the conference website as partners of the event.
.. We need an international investigation, perhaps overseen by the United Nations, of what happened to Jamal. In the United States, we also must investigate whether Saudis bought influence with spending that benefited the Trump family, such as $270,000 spent as of early 2017 by a lobbying firm for Saudi Arabia at the Trump hotel in Washington. The Washington Post reported that Saudi bookings at Trump Chicago increased 169 percent from the first half of 2016 to the first half of this year, and that the general manager of a Trump hotel in New York told investors that revenues rose partly because of “a last-minute visit to New York by the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia.”
.. If Saudi Arabia cannot show that Jamal is safe and sound, NATO countries should jointly expel Saudi ambassadors and suspend weapons sales. The United States should start an investigation under the Magnitsky Act and stand ready to impose sanctions on officials up to M.B.S.
America can also make clear to the Saudi royal family that it should find a new crown prince. A mad prince who murders a journalist, kidnaps a prime minister and starves millions of children should never be celebrated at state dinners, but instead belongs in a prison cell.
On Friday, Aug. 10, President Donald Trump announced he would double steel and aluminum tariffs on Turkey. The WSJ’s Gerald F. Seib explains how this political move could backfire. Photo: Getty
Four days after President Trump’s stern warning via Twitter to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, national security adviser John Bolton is scheduled to hold a meeting Thursday of Pentagon and other top officials on the administration’s emerging strategy on Iran.
The meeting, which follows Mr. Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear accord and reimpose tough economic sanctions on Tehran, comes as key elements of the administration’s Iran policy remain unclear.
Among them: what the U.S. might give in return for a new agreement with Tehran, and whether Washington is prepared to use military force along with economic pressure to roll back Iran’s assertive posture in the Middle East.
The discussions are to take place among members of the administration’s Principals Committee, a Cabinet-level panel on national security issues that Mr. Bolton chairs and whose members include Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, among other senior officials.
.. The Pentagon, however, isn’t eager to get into a war with Iran at a time when its strategy emphasizes building up capabilities to deter Russia and China, and the outcome of talks with North Korea is still uncertain.
.. To isolate Tehran economically and politically, the administration also threatened sanctions on nations that don’t end imports of oil from Iran by Nov. 4.
.. Mr. Trump said that he was “ready to make a real deal” with Iran. But some former officials believe the goal of others in the administration is to weaken and perhaps even destabilize the Iranian regime.
“What we see from Trump himself is the notion that he can negotiate a bigger and better deal by using pressure to bring the Iranians back to the table with more American leverage,” said Suzanne Maloney, a former State Department official who is at the Brookings Institution. “That view isn’t shared by others in the administration like the national security adviser and secretary of state who see sanctions as an end in itself.”
.. Before the Helsinki summit, Mr. Bolton voiced hope that Mr. Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin might work together to scale back Iran’s role in Syria. But U.S. intelligence experts say that Russia may not have the interest or ability to get Iranian forces out of Syria, and no agreement toward this end was announced in Helsinki.