Political Corner: Journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s death should have been the tipping point for relations with Saudi Arabia

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Photo courtesy of Getty Images

After the weeks following his disappearance, the Saudi Arabian government confirmed that journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed on October 2 after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Now, Saudi Arabia’ leadership is in the spotlight.

Since becoming crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud has introduced a cultural reform campaign called Saudi Vision 2030. This effort has attempted to establish faith in the Saudi government and change Saudi culture’s global reputation. So far, it has been credited with removing the ban on women driving and investing in businesses to lessen Saudi Arabia’s dependence on oil.

But beneath this campaign, Saudi Arabia’s leadership is still far from improved or trustworthy. Saudi has already shown its true colours by severing diplomatic relations with Canada over our questions regarding a detained human rights activist. In fact, detention has been Saudi’s constant response to critics. News and disagreements with the country seem to be something they’re disturbingly willing to silence.

The murder of Khashoggi could cast permanent doubt on the public image Salman is trying to create. However, despite this recent example of a persistent problem, international relationships with Saudi Arabia don’t appear to be changing significantly any time soon.

Saudi still has one of the largest oil reserves, oil reserves to which tons of countries are financially connected. Canada has considered freezing armoured vehicle exports, but aren’t distancing themselves much further. America especially is failing to take action, and while they’re directly discouraging Saudi Arabia’s actions, they aren’t cancelling any America-Saudi contracts.

Saudi Arabia’s recent and historic actions ought to be enough for countries to cut ties immediately, regardless of the costs. It’s worrisome that many countries are still waiting for a bigger crisis before taking action.

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