Home/Daniel Larison/The Overdue Backlash Against Saudi Arabia Is Growing

The Overdue Backlash Against Saudi Arabia Is Growing

Senior White House Adviser Jared Kushner, and his wife, Assistant to the President Ivanka Trump,at the Murabba Palace with Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, May 20, 2017, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

Jared Kushner played a significant role in the Trump administration’s embrace of the Saudi crown prince, and his reaction to the Khashoggi murder proves that his judgment is just as appalling as ever:

Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and Middle East adviser, has been urging the president to stand by Prince Mohammed, according to a person close to the White House and a former official with knowledge of the discussions.

Mr. Kushner has argued that the outrage over Mr. Khashoggi’s disappearance and possible killing will pass, just as it did after other Saudi errors like the kidnapping of the prime minister of Lebanon and the killing of a busload of children in Yemen by a Saudi airstrike.

Many Americans have resigned themselves to the same conclusion that the latest Saudi crime will change nothing, but it takes someone truly awful to welcome that result. Kushner is also almost certainly wrong in his confidence that the current backlash will end anytime soon. As long as Trump and Pompeo are engaged in a cover-up for the Saudis, the outrage isn’t going to dissipate, but seems more likely to spread and affect many aspects of the relationship.

There was already growing support for cutting off all support to the war on Yemen before the murder, and now there is even more. Some senators that previously opposed efforts to end U.S. involvement are beginning to change their minds. The House is expected to vote on H.Con.Res. 138 next month, and that resolution has been steadily gaining supporters. Kushner has every incentive to try to salvage the bad relationship with the war criminal that he has been advocating for, but it is obvious that no one should have ever listened to him about this or anything else. Nothing could better demonstrate why he has no business being involved in the administration at any level than his repeated blundering in urging support for Mohammed bin Salman.

The Saudi government has committed so many outrages in just the last few years that all of them have begun to have a cumulative effect on how policymakers and the media view the crown prince and his policies. The Khashoggi murder has broken through to the wider public in a way that none of the other Saudi crimes has, and that has had a lot to do with the extensive daily coverage that it has received. One can only imagine how much more opposition there would be to U.S. involvement in the war on Yemen if that policy were covered with the same intensity.

The longer that Trump sticks with and covers for Mohammed bin Salman, the more likely it is that both opposition to Trump and opposition to the Saudi relationship will continue to grow in Congress. The backlash against Saudi Arabia has been many years and even decades in the making, and it is going to keep getting stronger.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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