Why What Happened to Jamal Khashoggi Matters

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RUSH: I got another email: “Rush, could you explain to me this journalist named Khashoggi?” It’s Khashoggi, and I’ll be glad to tell you what I know about this, and it is somewhat fascinating. His name is Jamal Khashoggi. The president of the United States is involved in this now. Trump is being openly asked about it, and it has to do, in many ways, with our newfound relationship with Saudi Arabia based on the fact we no longer depend on them for oil.

Now, Jamal Khashoggi is Saudi. I don’t know if he’s related to Adnan Khashoggi. I don’t know how common Khashoggi is as a Saudi or Arab name. Adnan Khashoggi was a famous arms runner made famous as a celebrity by Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. But the guy was an arms merchant. He was an arms dealer, and that’s the source of his wealth. He was just made to look like a jet-setting party animal by Robin Leach.

Whether Jamal Khashoggi is related to him, I can even find out; I just haven’t. Jamal Khashoggi is a critic of Mohammad Bin Salman. Mohammad Bin Salman is the crown prince in Saudi Arabia. His father is the king, King Salman. He is the brother of the late deceased king, King Abdullah, their father, grandfather started the House of Saud. They are the royal family. The crown prince… Each of these guys have many sons. There are constant battles for power within the royal family. The crown prince is the chosen son; he is the heir.

Now, Mohammad Bin Salman is not the oldest son of King Salman but he has been designated the crown prince, meaning he will be the next king. As such Mohammad Bin Salman has been trying, theoretically, to reform the Saudi economy and to take it away from being strictly petrol and oil focused because the world is expanding in ways that the Saudis are not involved. And one of the things that Mohammad Bin Salman has been doing is been traveling the world and making friends.

In the United States he spent a lot of time in Silicon Valley. He’s gotten to know, he’s wined and dined the Google guys, he’s wined and dined the Facebook guys, spent a lot of time at Apple. He wants to build a brand-new city out of nothing in Saudi Arabia and make it a Tech Center. He’s 32. If he takes off the Arab garb, he looks just like your average, run-of-the-mill guy, fairly attractive, short, a little stocky, but he represents, if he’s being truthful, major reforms.

He is the guy who has opened up driving to Saudi women. He is the guy who wants to relax all kinds of cultural rules on Saudi women and open up speech to them, open up being able to drive, go places on their own without male accompaniment. This made him quite controversial. He also, this past summer, arrested the elite of the elite of Saudi wealth, some of them even among the royal family, and took over the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Riyadh.

That became a giant jail, and he put all these guys in jail demanding a certain percentage of their wealth on the basis they had stolen it due to corruption and connections and so forth. He’s made a lot of enemies. Well, Jamal Khashoggi as a journalist doesn’t buy any of this and has been running around openly criticizing Mohammad Bin Salman, even running stories suggesting that Mohammad Bin Salman’s father, the king, has grown so upset with his son, the crown prince, that he’s taking toys and power away from him.

This reportedly has not sat well with the crown prince, Mohammad Bin Salman. Despite the reforms in Saudi Arabia, you still don’t get to run around and criticize the government and keep your head. You don’t get to run around and criticize the government and keep your knees, for example. Jamal Khashoggi wanted to get married. He had to get a marriage license. He was in Turkey. In order to do that…

By the way, before that, he had supposedly had been targeted by the crown prince and others in the Saudi royal family because of his open criticism of these reforms and other things. So he goes into the Saudi consulate or embassy in Istanbul and hasn’t been seen since. He went in to get a marriage license. He was wearing… Get this. He was wearing an Apple Watch, his iPhone that was connected to the watch was outside in the car with his fiancée, who was outside waiting on him to get his marriage license and come back out; then they could go off and live happily ever after.

At the same time, Jamal Khashoggi shows up at the Saudi embassy or consulate in Istanbul. 15 men, menacing type guys from Saudi Arabia arrive on the same day. They are seen entering the same Saudi consulate or embassy. They are seen leaving a few hours after they arrive. Jamal Khashoggi has not been seen since. The theory is that he was killed and murdered and beheaded and disfigured, dismembered, and taken out of there in various diplomatic pouches and will never be seen again.

This is why the president and others are being urged to get involved to find out what happened here, ’cause we have an allied relationship with the Saudis, and we cannot tolerate this, if this is how the Saudis are gonna treat their journalists. Now, the relationship we have with Saudi Arabia always has been very little leverage. They’ve got oil. We didn’t have as much as we needed. We needed to buy theirs. We needed them to stay friends.

We needed them to have an open-ended relationship with us. As such, we treated them with kid gloves. We protected them, they let us build a base, Air Force Base. We protected them. It was kind of a mutual back scratch relationship. But now it’s changed because we don’t need Saudi oil. We have become the largest producer, thanks to fracking, of fossil fuels in the world. And we have reserves that go beyond what even the Saudis have.

That has not been widely reported but it’s true, and so the pressure is now on to not kowtow to the Saudis, to find out what happened here to this journalist, Jamal Khashoggi. And if in fact he ends up having been murdered, and dismembered, and then disposed of in various diplomatic pouches, it would not look good for Mohammad Bin Salman, who really is… He’s got the world convinced that he’s trying to reform Saudi Arabia.

Oh, and there’s another fundamental aspect. The Saudi Saudi Arabian society has been governed by Wahhabism, which is a virulent, extremist, terrorist-inspiring strain of Islam. And by decree, the royal family in Saudi Arabia is in charge of Islam. And so it was with the apparent endorsement of Wahhabism that the Saudi royal family existed. They run Mecca, for example, the annual pilgrimage.

Well, Mohammad Bin Salman, 32 years old, crown prince, is attempting, as part of his reforms, to distance Saudi Arabia and the royal family from Wahhabism, from militant, virulent, terrorist-inspiring Islam. This has many other people upset. These are the kinds of reforms that you never really expect to see in totalitarian and autocratic countries like this. But he’s a Millennial, and it’s just a case that, as generations come and go, there’s always gonna be a generation coming up that will at some point refuse to accept the circumstances, the traditions of its parents and grandparents.

And he may represent that generation in Saudi Arabia. But there are a lot of people rebelling against it, who don’t want women to be able to drive, who don’t want women to be able to, you know, associate, go to the movies or knitting clubs, whatever they want to do, they don’t want them to do that, they don’t want the male position to be weakened whatsoever. And he didn’t win any friends when he gathered all the corrupt, wealthy tycoons and took over half of their wealth under the premise that their gains were ill-gotten.

He’s made a lot of enemies, but he’s made a lot of friends, too, in the United States and in the U.K. He made a lot of friends because building this big, brand-new city, which is supposed to be a tech marvel has made him the darling of Google guys, the darling of Silicon Valley, if you will. So here comes this journalist who was openly critical of Bin Salman. His nickname is MBS, Mohammad Bin Salman. And now this guy, the journalist, is dead, and it has geo-political implications depending on the fate of this journalist.

And if he’s dead, who’s responsible for it? Mohammad Bin Salman has a lot riding on this, and so does the king, his father, which many people thought was strange that his father was just sitting by and letting his son do all this. The 32-year-old son, not a 60-year-old son, not a 50, but a 32-year-old son doing all this, which is reshaping the whole kingdom. So from all of that, I mean, it’s somewhat fascinating and interesting to me. But the death of a journalist has now caused a renewed focus on all of this and what it may mean. That’s why what happened to Jamal Khashoggi has people interested.

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