By Mamdouh AlMuhaini
31 October 2018
The Khashoggi case has become a game of bids and a political ball. But it has clearly exposed strong ideological orientations and deeply repressed feelings, not only of ordinary people, but also of high-profile officials who have hidden their real stances and shrouded them with diplomacy and official courtesy.
The most prominent of these figures are top members of former President Barack Obama’s administration. They removed their masks and invested in the Khashoggi case in order to attack President Trump and weaken him before the elections, while distorting the image of Saudis in order to embellish that of their Iranian friends. It’s clear that this collective rush to quash all diplomatic traditions was because they thought this as their once in a lifetime chance.
Former National Security Advisor Susan Rice wrote a disgruntled article in the New York Times and based it on the Khashoggi case to doubt the role of Saudi Arabia and to state that the kingdom is an ally that cannot be depended on. When reading the article, one quickly realizes that Rice’s aim is irrelevant to Khashoggi. She seeks to attack Trump and gain points against him to serve her Democratic Party. It’s said that she will run for Congress in the 2020 elections.
This is the domestic aim, but the foreign goal is related to Rice’s doctrine that clashes with Saudi Arabia’s role and stance.
Rice, like Obama, is inclined to the Iranians on political and ideological fronts. Rice was not upset by the Iranians’ military and political expansion in the region. She did not fully criticize them when she was a UN ambassador, and as national security advisor, she did not take any practical steps to limit the horrific crimes the Iranians committed. She rather confirmed her soft reconciliatory stance via the Iranian nuclear deal which she celebrated with her team.
Rice directed her anger at the Trump administration and its ally Riyadh due to repealing the great achievement of the Obama administration. She has repeatedly said that withdrawing from the nuclear deal is utmost stupidity and will enable the Iranians to win in the end. This is of course not true as the Iranian regime is facing difficult circumstances amid an unprecedented economic siege.
Ideology is preventing Rice from seeing the facts on the ground. She does not say anything about the proclaimed crimes of the Tehran regime, whether those committed in Iran or outside it such as in Syria. She does not say anything about the terrorist militias which Iran planted across the world, and she views Iran as a strong and important ally. At the same time, she intentionally ignores the vital Saudi role in protecting the region’s stability via an ongoing fierce war against Sunni and Shiite terror groups and rogue regimes and uses the isolated Khashoggi case, in which legal measures have been taken and announced to the world, in order to picture Saudi Arabia as the unreliable reckless power.
Obama administration gave a green light to Iran
During the Green Movement in 2009, the Iranian authorities committed horrific violations, killed hundreds and arrested thousands. Back then, Rice did not write an article in the New York Times demanding to punish Iran. On the contrary, she kept silent just like President Obama, who back then said his remarks will be exploited against the rebels. What happened is that the American administration’s silence actually gave a green light to the Revolutionary Guards to finish off protestors and mercilessly shed blood. Afterwards we were certain it was a trick because the Obama administration had kept silent in order not to sabotage the nuclear deal which it was later going to propose to the Iranians.
Rice did not only keep silent over this bad development that year and she did not only attack the Trump administration and his closest ally, Saudi Arabia, after withdrawing from the nuclear deal but she also called on the current American administration to keep silent over the recent popular protests in Iran after Trump and members of his administration voiced their support of the revolting Iranian people.
Rice’s stance that ideologically opposes Saudi Arabia is not limited to the Khashoggi case. There have been previous stances before such as to those related to the Saudi-Canadian dispute. Rice posted tweets attacking the American administration for not taking a firm position against Saudi Arabia, a position that harmonizes with American values and interests.
In the eyes of Rice, American interests harmonize with the Iranian interest even if the Iranian regime is the largest sponsor of terrorism according to the US State Department itself. At the same time, she incites against Saudi Arabia due to a diplomatic dispute with another country. It’s difficult to imagine that Rice will say something about the recent Iranian explosions plans in France and the recent assassinations which the Iranian intelligence planned in Denmark. It’s strange that Rice attacks Saudi Arabia after Canada violated diplomatic norms and interfered in an internal affair at the time when President Trump describes Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as a coward and weak.
Most members of Obama’s team like former Vice President Joe Biden and former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency John Brennan repeat the same ideas and make the same demands. However, Rice is the impudent and publicized face of political exploitation of the Khashoggi case, which clearly exposed moral hypocrisy and a desire to exploit the case of a Saudi citizen against his own country for purely political and ideological goals.
Rice tried to present a logical discussion but she voiced grudges in the form of recommendations to the American administration to end the alliance with Saudi Arabia and pursue rapprochement with Iran. It’s easy to understand this bitterness if we put this stance in a political and ideological context. Saudi Arabia stood in the face of a leftist ideological project in the Middle East, a project which the Obama administration adopted in Egypt. The kingdom also stood against Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood.
Therefore it’s not strange to see these three parties, the leftists, the Iranians and the Brotherhood, sleeping on one bed and currently uniting in a camp that’s directed against Saudi Arabia and particularly against Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. However this hostile camp has revealed the opposite of its goals as it revealed the strength of the Saudi state, the rootedness of political legitimacy and the solidity of the Saudi people’s national identity.
Mamdouh AlMuhaini is the Editor-in-Chief of Al Arabiya News Channel’s digital platforms. He can be followed on Twitter @malmhuain