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Boardman writes: "On October 2, three weeks after the Post published Khashoggi's column, he entered the Saudi embassy in Ankara, where unknown Saudis apparently rendered him an un-person. Why? No one knows with certainty, but the conventional wisdom is that he was terminated with prejudice for being too outspoken."

People search for survivors under the rubble of houses destroyed by an airstrike near Sanaa Airport. (photo: Reuters)
People search for survivors under the rubble of houses destroyed by an airstrike near Sanaa Airport. (photo: Reuters)

Yemen Is Not a Wedge Issue, It's an Ongoing Nexus of War Crimes

By William Boardman, Reader Supported News

20 October 18


Saudi Arabia must face the damage from the past three-plus years of war in Yemen. The conflict has soured the kingdom’s relations with the international community, affected regional security dynamics and harmed its reputation in the Islamic world. Saudi Arabia is in a unique position to simultaneously keep Iran out of Yemen and end the war on favorable terms if it change its role from warmaker to peacemaker. Saudi Arabia could use its clout and leverage within Western circles and empower international institutions and mechanisms to resolve the conflict.

– Jamal Khashoggi’s column lede, Washington Post, September 11, 2018

n October 2, three weeks after the Post published Khashoggi’s column, he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, where unknown Saudis apparently rendered him an un-person. Why? No one knows with certainty, but the conventional wisdom is that he was terminated with prejudice for being too outspoken. He was a journalist in self-imposed exile for fear of losing his freedom if he stayed in Saudi Arabia. Some have referred to him as a “dissident,” but the evidence of his writing, especially his last column, reveals him as more of a lap cat whose purring is dissent only in the ears of a frightened listener.

Khashoggi treads very lightly in the piece quoted above. He does not call for anyone to take responsibility for what he fails to call a genocidal war started by the Saudis, unprovoked, but with US blessing and vital tactical support. Khashoggi frets about damage to Saudi reputation, not thousands of dead Yemenis, most of them non-combatants. He affirms the myth of Iranian responsibility for the Yemen civil war and the Saudi territorial dispute with Yemen. He invites a fantasy of Saudi leadership in peace-making, as if the Saudis were not the aggressors and as if the Saudis had not sponsored decades of international terrorism (including Saudi involvement in 9/11).

Saudi Arabia is a longstanding, well-oiled, totalitarian monarchy. Khashoggi writes like the classic courtier, trying to nudge his lord and master in the direction of a better way ever so tactfully. Khashoggi is a hat-in-hand near-apologist for the unacceptable. But even that limited suggestion of a better wardrobe for brutality was apparently too much for the naked emperors of the Saudi dictatorship.

Political assassination is a common and useful tool for tyrants. The US assassinates people all the time, most ruthlessly by remote drone killings with little care for collateral damage. US assassination teams have taken out Osama bin Laden and unknown others. That’s one reason the US has special forces deployed in more than a hundred countries. For decades US-trained monsters have run puppet tyrannies in places like Guatemala and, still, Honduras. There is a hidden interface between our professional military and the world of non-governmental black ops.

This was most recently illustrated by the BuzzFeed News report of American mercenaries assassinating “undesirables” in southern Yemen, the part of Yemen the Saudis are not bombing. There the UAE (United Arab Emirates), a titular Saudi ally, maintains repressive control on the ground behind a fig leaf of the “legitimate” Yemeni government that exercises no effective authority over anything. In this case, a US company, Spear Operations Group (a Delaware corporation) hires US veterans and contracts with the UAE to execute designated opponents, one of whom was a member of a group that had won the Nobel Peace Prize. Sometimes the contractor is the US itself, as with Blackwater in Iraq. Secret and private, operations like this are likely well-known to the US (on a need-to-know basis in places like the CIA or State Department), but remain unregulated and unacknowledged by Congress.

American assassination activities provide an especially bitter irony to those blathering US senators linking the Yemen war to the Khashoggi disappearance as a human rights violation to which the US must respond to maintain its credibility. Several senators, across the political spectrum (an indication of how narrow and shallow that spectrum is), tried to use the Khashoggi case as a wedge issue for ending the US support for the Saudi-led war on Yemen. That is such a squishy, amoral position (almost prone), but passes in contemporary American politics for something like courage, not because it’s brave but because so few will go even that tiny bit of the way toward any truthfully principled stand, when in fact two such stands are needed here.

First, the principled stand on the Yemen war – once Obama’s war, now Trump’s war: this war is an unspeakable atrocity and has been since the US green-lighted it in 2015. This unjustified, undeclared war on the poorest nation in the region is a nexus of unrelenting war crimes and crimes against humanity. The Saudis and their allies daily bomb a defenseless country without regard for killing civilians in school buses, hospitals, bazaars. The Saudis and their allies, guided by the US and using US munitions, have bombed the country so intensely as to turn the environment itself into a biological weapon, spreading disease and famine to millions of people. There is no innocence here: the US, the Saudis, and all their allies have blood on their hands for which global decency demands a full accounting (perhaps in vain). The US should never have participated in this war and should end its participation yesterday.

Second, the principled stand on Khashoggi has nothing to do with Yemen or politics of any sort. The principled stand is simple: the Saudis have no right – none, under any principle of international, local, sharia, or any other law – they have no right to entice any victim into a lethal trap. That is not OK. So why is that so hard to say? Well, some equivocate, we don’t know exactly what happened, and our president smears those who see the obvious by claiming we are calling the Saudis guilty until proven innocent. Yes, there’s a sense in which that has a whiff of truth, but that whiff comes straight from the Saudi cover-up. The Saudis know what happened in the consulate, the Saudis know who did what to Khashoggi, the Saudis know where Khashoggi is now and what condition he’s in, and the Saudis are not telling what they know. The Saudis could make us all look like fools by simply producing and releasing a healthy, happy Khashoggi, maybe even giving him a wedding present. The president seems to think that might happen. What’s the matter with you?

The war in Yemen is criminal and unacceptable. The war in Yemen has been criminal and unacceptable since it began. Now, almost four years later, it’s ever more criminal and unacceptable and still few people understand that obvious horror. The war is morally abhorrent and should be rejected for that reason alone.

Luring an inconvenient journalist into your consulate and dismembering him while still alive – if that’s what happened – is criminal and unacceptable. Most people seem to get that, even if they don’t know what to do about it. State assassination is morally abhorrent and should be rejected for that reason alone.

Linking the assassination of one man to the deliberate slaughter of thousands and the onslaught against millions, as if they have any rational relationship, is an exercise in moral bankruptcy.

* * *

A priest, a rabbi, and a Muslim journalist walk into a Saudi Embassy.

The priest and the rabbi come out alive.

And Trump praises the Saudis for religious tolerance.

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William M. Boardman has over 40 years experience in theatre, radio, TV, print journalism, and non-fiction, including 20 years in the Vermont judiciary. He has received honors from Writers Guild of America, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Vermont Life magazine, and an Emmy Award nomination from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News. your social media marketing partner


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+3 # chrisconno 2018-10-20 14:58
How possible is it that it was more a favor to Trump because he didn't like that journalist who criticized him?
+6 # MidwestDick 2018-10-20 16:14
According to this piece: khashoggi was censured and silenced for criticizing Trump and ultimately had to exile himself from Saudi.
After his death, Trump turns up in Montana and praises a Republican congressman for feloniously assaulting a reporter. Is this insensitivity or an escalation of his war of intimidation against the press?
What's next? Selective droning of foreign press buildings and personnel followed on by similar assaults here?
There do seem to be some dots that need connecting.
+1 # WBoardman 2018-10-20 21:13
MidwestDick may well be right in his suspicions,
but the evidence so far seems thin.

The Business Insider piece says:
" Saudi Arabia's government actually barred him from appearing in media there after he criticized President Donald Trump in late 2016, according to the US State Department."

Trump was not President in 2016.

The "State Department report" that is quoted, is totally conditional,
based on what Khashoggi said and hedging that "authorities PURPORTEDLY banned him..."

The report also says, in curiously ambiguous context:
"Earlier, in July, authorities reportedly lifted the writing ban against him."
This seems to mean the ban was lifted once he went into exile.

Business Insider seems to rely for its conclusion on the Independent of 12.5.16, to which it links. The Independent says:
"A Saudi Arabian journalist and commentator has been banned by his country for criticising US President-elect Donald Trump."

The most biting criticism in either story is pretty mild:
"The expectation that 'Trump as president' will be starkly different from 'Trump as candidate' is a false hope at best," Khashoggi said at the time.
This was purportedly at an unidentified "Washington, D.C., think tank.

The story is still evolving.
Assassinating journalists is a global trend.
Mean, motive, and opportunity analysis points to Saudis.
Business Insider notes Khashoggi rejected being called a dissident.
As I argued, even his tepid dissent....
0 # chrisconno 2018-10-21 13:47
Except that Trump was president elect in late 2016.
0 # MidwestDick 2018-10-26 21:24
just got back to this, bill. thanks for your comment.
+2 # economagic 2018-10-21 10:04
What dots are left to connect? The president* (per Charles Pierce) and the entire Republican party have now made it incontrovertibl y clear that they "Design to reduce [us] under absolute despotism." (cf the Declaration of Independence, middle of the second paragraph, the sentence that begins, "But when a long Train of Abuses and Usurpations. . . .")
+2 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-10-21 07:02
This is a good report about the horrifying use of assassination by governments, esp. the US government. The "American mercenaries" who are assassinating people in Yemen are said to be "ex-US soldiers or special ops." This is the pattern that has prevailed all over the world. I suspect many of them are not "ex-" anything. They are active US special operations teams. This is what they do as a profession.

If you pay attention to the news coming from other parts of the world, you will notice a high level of sudden deaths in the run up to any election. This is particularly true in Latin America. US hit teams simply kill candidates that that someone in the US finds "undesirable." I have a friend who works a lot in El Salvador and he's witnessed this many times. They are Americans doing these political killings.

This is a good article. Very likely BetaTheta will chime in with a comment that Boardman did not mention Putin and all of his alleged political killings.
+1 # jackdresser 2018-10-22 23:02
My Counterpunch article 2 months ago explains much more about this war and US as well as KSA motives.
0 # WBoardman 2018-10-25 12:48
funny jackdresser should call it
"America's Secret War on Yemen" –
which is only true in a heavily ironic sense.

I've written more times than I can count
about Yemen here on RSN,
starting during the first month of the illegal war
in April 2015.

Howling at the whirlwind may not do much good, but....

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