The death of Arab Spring
The killing of Jamal Khashoggi symbolises the victory of Saudi-led counter-revolution to Arab Spring, asserts Jyotika Teckchandani
The gruesome murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a US-based Saudi journalist and dissident, at the diplomatic enclave of Saudi Arabia in Istanbul on October 2, has shocked the world.
While regime security is the bane of Middle Eastern politics, a political assassination in a diplomatic enclave has been unheard of. From this point of view, the gruesome murder has tremendous implication for internal politics of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia as well as for regional politics.
The incident has not only shown the medieval tribal outlook of the Saudi regime in general alongside a very dark side of the Crown Prince's personality, Mohammed bin Salman who is currently running the affairs of Saudi Arabia. Since he outmaneuvered his rivals to become Saudi Arabia's de-facto leader in 2015, Mohammed bin Salman was considered as a social and economic reformist. However, the Khashoggi case has shifted the focus from reforms and a more open Saudi society under him to one that includes the imprisonment of critics and human rights activists, thousands of civilian deaths in Yemen, and a rapid rise of the number of executions since his ascent to power.
At the regional level, the killing of Khashoggi symbolises the final victory of Saudi-led counter-revolution over the phenomenon of Arab Spring. In this context, it may be noted that Khashoggi, had one of the largest Twitter following in the Arab world. Its estimated to be around two million. Therefore, in putting him to death the Saudi regime intended to silence the growing Arab voices of men, women, and youth for democratic reforms.
As a result, the Saudi regime is facing tremendous regional and international isolation. Regionally, it has given fodder to Iran, Qatar, and Turkey to malign the image of Saudi Arabia in the Arab world as well as in the Muslim world.
At the international level, the incident has strained relationship between Saudi Arabia and the West particularly, US, UK, and Germany. While the US Defence Secretary has warned that this incident has the potential to disrupt the regional stability, Germany and UK have demanded the time-bound, independent and transparent investigation in this matter. This will have an implication in weakening the position of Mohammed bin Salman internally, which
will gravitate the dissident factions within the Saudi Royal family to mobilise and push towards his removal as Crown Prince.
Whether this will materialise or not, only time can tell. However, one thing is sure that the incident along with ongoing humanitarian crisis in Yemen, GCC crisis, rising number of executions, purging political rivals, imprisonment of women rights activists have put Mohammed bin Salman in a very negative light from which it will take him a long time to recover.
(Dr. Jyotika Teckchandani is Assistant Professor, Institute of Social Sciences, Amity University, Noida. The views expressed are strictly personal)