US, West may topple bin Salman: Hunter

TEHRAN, Oct. 16 (MNA) – Shireen Tahmaasb Hunter, a professor of political science at Georgetown University, said that the Khashoggi issue is very important and highly embarrassing to America that has so closely embraced Bin Salman.

It is conceivable that America and other Western states might ask King Salman to reduce his powers or even remove him from the position of Crown Prince.

“If America does not do something serious about Khashoggi, its credibility on human rights issues would further suffer,” Hunter said.

She adds that before the Khashoggi affair, some Western observers had grown critical of Bin Salman. Some of his policies, including his quarrel with Qatar, has created dilemmas for Western states. Therefore, it is conceivable that America and other Western states might ask Salman to reduce his powers or even remove him from the position of Crown Prince.

Following is the text the interview:

Due to the relations between the West and the United States in particular with Saudi Arabia, the subject of Jamal Khashoggi has become widespread. Usually, in the case of human rights violations, Western countries condoned Saudi Arabia because of Saudi arms purchases and guaranteeing oil sales. But in this case it is different. What are the reasons?

The case of Jamal Khashoggi is special because he was reportedly murdered at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul at the order of the Crown prince himself. This act is different form limiting the journalist’s freedom of speech or even imprisoning them. This is much more serious and thus more embarrassing to Riyadh's Western allies. Moreover, Khashoggi was very prominent and was a columnist for the Washington Post. Therefore, the media in America sees it as a direct insult to them. Also, because in the past the Washington Post was very complimentary towards Bin Salman, they feel more pressure to show their impartiality and thus have been demanding a serious response to Khashoggi's murder. 

Some believe that as Saudi Arabia did not lower the price of oil at the request of Trump, the United States is putting pressure on Saudi Arabia through Khashoggi subject. What is your opinion?

I don't believe that Saudi Arabia's unwillingness or inability to lower oil prices has had an impact on reaction to Khashoggi murder. The Khashoggi issue is very important and highly embarrassing to America that has so closely embraced Bin Salman. If America does not do something serious about Khashoggi, its credibility on human rights issues would further suffer.

Some Western countries, including the United States, have threatened Saudi Arabia with sanctions. In contrast, Saudi Arabia has spoken of an appropriate response in the event of a sanction. How far do you think the opposition with Saudi Arabia will go?

In theory, Saudi Arabia can retaliate against America and other Western states by curtailing its oil production or cancelling its arms purchases. In reality, however, Riyadh's ability is limited as the Kingdom relies on the West for its security. I think it is more likely that some explanations would be found that would clear Bin Salman of the charge of direct involvement in the affair. I believe these Saudi statements are bravado.

What are impacts do the subject of Jamal Khashoggi may have on the future power of Mohammad bin Salman?

Even before the Khashoggi affair some Western observers had grown critical of Bin Salman. Some of his policies, including his quarrel with Qatar, has created dilemmas for Western states. Therefore, it is conceivable that America and other Western states might ask King Salman to reduce his powers or even remove him from the position of Crown Prince. At any rate, the Khashoggi affair is certain to complicate succession issues in Saudi Arabia.

Interview by: Javad Heirannia

MNA/TT

News Code 138752

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