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Can Mohammed bin Salman Change His Picture?

Mohammed bin Salman, MBS, MBS news, Mohammed bin Salman news, Saudi Arabia news, Saudi news, news on Saudi Arabia, Arab world news, Bill Law journalist, Saudi Arabia

Mike Pompeo and Mohammed bin Salman in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on 9/19/2019. © State Division picture by Ron Przysucha

On April 10, the Saudi Ministry of Protection introduced the execution of three troopers after what it known as a “truthful trial” in a specialist court docket. The boys had been convicted and sentenced to demise for the crimes of “excessive treason” and “cooperating with the enemy.” Other than the lads’s names, no additional particulars had been supplied.

Ali al-Ahmed, a Washington-based critic of the regime, tweeted a video — which has not been independently verified — of what seems to be troopers burning and stamping on an image of the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman (MBS). Within the tweet, Ahmed says he was “informed this video was behind executing the three Saudi troopers.”

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Given the opacity of the Saudi regime, the troopers may have been executed for any variety of causes, corresponding to being concerned within the illicit sale of weapons to Houthi rebels in Yemen (the trial and executions had been carried out within the army’s Southern Command near the Yemeni border). Or it might have been a case of lèse-majesté — the burning of the {photograph} — that enraged MBS.

If it’s the latter, it offers additional credence to the picture of an unstable and violence-prone chief, whom the CIA blames for ordering the homicide of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018. Attempt as he may, Mohammed bin Salman can’t put that one crime behind him. He was angered that Khashoggi — at one time a detailed affiliate of senior members of the ruling household — had departed from the dominion and had the temerity to criticize the prince in columns he wrote for The Washington Put up.

Throwing Critics in Jail

Western businessmen and politicians, anxious to do enterprise with Saudi Arabia, may put aside lots of the actions of this unruly and impulsive prince. These embrace the Saudi-led battle in Yemen, which MBS thought he would win in just a few weeks however has now entered its seventh yr; the blockade of Qatar in June 2017, which didn’t finish till January 2021; the seizure and compelled resignation of the then-Lebanese prime minister, Saad Hariri, in November 2017; and the arrest and detention of greater than 400 Saudi businessmen and senior members of the royal household, a few of whom had been allegedly tortured and solely launched once they signed over firms and surrendered hundreds of thousands of {dollars} in a mafia-style shakedown.

Even the imprisonment of Loujain al-Hathloul, a Saudi ladies’s rights activist, brought about barely a flicker of concern in Western boardrooms and corridors of political energy. Hathloul and her household allege that since her arrest in Might 2018, she was tortured in detention and subjected to electrocution, flogging, sexual abuse and waterboarding in secret prisons earlier than she was lastly delivered to trial. Amongst these accountable for the torture, she claims, was Saud al-Qahtani, a confidante of the crown prince who was closely implicated within the Khashoggi homicide. Hathloul was lastly launched however underneath strict circumstances in February of this yr. The allegations of torture had been by no means investigated by Saudi authorities.

The arrival of Joe Biden within the White Home took away the safety that his predecessor had supplied to the crown prince. In February, President Biden launched a declassified CIA report on the killing of Khashoggi. He has additionally withheld arms gross sales to the Saudis to strain MBS to finish the battle in Yemen. Biden has additionally signaled that human rights points — having been kicked into the lengthy grass by Donald Trump, the previous US president — at the moment are again on the agenda. 1000’s of political prisoners are languishing within the Saudi jail system. This contains the scholar and creator Salman al-Odah, towards whom the general public prosecutor is searching for the demise penalty, and the assist employee Abdulrahman al-Sadhan, who in March was sentenced to 20 years in jail after being convicted of writing nameless tweets important of the regime.

PR Will Not His Picture

Biden’s stance on Saudi Arabia is a drawback for MBS, however simply how a lot of an issue stays to be seen. Biden is, in spite of everything, a pragmatist who might, in the long run, not precise a lot of a worth on the human rights entrance earlier than waving by the weapons deal. However with each step MBS takes to rehabilitate his picture and rebrand the dominion as a contemporary, open society the place “average Islam” thrives, he’s shadowed by a outstanding and doggedly brave girl: Hatice Cengiz, the fiancé of the murdered Jamal Khashoggi.

When MBS tried to make use of the Saudi Public Funding Fund (PIF) to buy Newcastle United, a soccer membership within the UK, Cengiz was there to problem the takeover bid. It failed, to the good chagrin of the crown prince. When extra not too long ago he dangled a $100-million purse to safe the heavyweight battle between Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury for the dominion, Cengiz used The Telegraph newspaper to precise her anger. “I can’t imagine in spite of everything this time, and all of the proof exhibiting his guilt, that the Saudi Crown Prince remains to be being thought of as a ‘host’ for such world sporting occasions, which he’s utilizing for political causes and to wash his picture,” she stated in a press release. 

Indications are that Saudi Arabia will host the battle, however MBS might have to drag much more than $100 million out of the PIF to take action. However sports activities occasions and costly PR campaigns won’t take away the stain of the killing of Khashoggi. To rehabilitate his picture, MBS must give justice to Hathloul, drop the fees and launch Odah, finish the unjust incarceration of Sadhan and launch hundreds of different prisoners of conscience. Mohammed bin Salman must take accountability for his actions and acknowledge his crimes — which he can’t do. 

What he can and can do is to play for time and hope that Trump or one in every of his lackeys returns to the White Home in 2025.

*[This text was initially printed by Gulf Home.]

The views expressed on this article are the creator’s personal and don’t essentially replicate Truthful Observer’s editorial coverage.

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