Since we last spoke to Ali Al-Ahmed of the Gulf Institute here in Washington, D.C., much has changed with the Khashoggi Affair, where a Saudi operative turned political commentator was butchered in the Saudi Arabian consulate in Turkey. We thought the time was right to sit down with Mr. Al-Ahmed again to discuss the future of Saudi-American relations. He had a lot to say.
“The killing of Khashoggi, the way it was done, was meant to send a message,” Mr. Al-Ahmed declared. “It was meant for people like me. The regime demands absolute loyalty. If you don’t provide it, they can kill you. Khashoggi was on the inside; he became rich and successful on the House of Saud’s money. So they killed him - violently. They cut him up while he was still alive and then put his body through a meat grinder. This is what can happen if you disrespect this regime, even a little bit.”
Mr. Al-Ahmed wants America to consider replacing the Saudi monarchy. He has taken his adoptive country’s history seriously and wants what the Founding Fathers gave the United States for his own country. “An absolute monarchy will never give us human rights. It is the nature of a monarchy. What will happen when the Saudis come to America, to your house, to kill one of their dissidents, like me? We have been telling people in here in Washington what the Saudi regime is like for years; now they know. In that way, the Khashoggi killing had a silver lining.
“I want America to rethink the Saudi relationship. Taking out one prince (MBS) for another now will change nothing. It is the royal family that is the problem. Changing one person at the top will not change a thing.
“A change from out from under the House of Saud will not only benefit the Saudi people; it will be an achievement for all humanity. We want to be able to take charge of our own country just as you did in 1776. Many European officers came to fight for the Americans during your revolution. Why? Because it was the idea you were fighting for. These ideas should be applied across the world. The Saudi people can figure it out. We may not end up with a democracy but anything will be better than what we have now with this monarchy.
“You also have a big problem with the Saudis buying influence in the American government. Do you know how many U.S. senators received cash prior to the recent vote on the conflict in Yemen? Here the Saudis are murdering children, just as Assad did in Syria, and no one is saying anything. Why? Because they are paid money not to say anything. The silence is deafening. Bombing, starvation, refusal to provide medical care, these are not American values. If you don’t stand up for them, who will?
“If you don’t deal with the problem of Saudi financial influence on your policy makers, you will one day find yourself a province of the king, or of the Chinese.
“The Saudi American Public Relations Affairs Committee [SAPRAC] has called me the terrorist. I am suing them for defamation. I have been harassed, hacked and threatened. My brother has been in jail for 17 years. This is one reason I am doing this interview; I want the world to know in case I end up disappearing. Suddenly it has become very dangerous to criticize the Saudi regime.”
“I am glad the world is waking up to what this regime is really like.”
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