Washington Free Beacon editor in chief Matthew Continetti said Friday that it is important to consider there would be costs if the alliance between the United States and Saudi Arabia breaks amid the outrage over the disappearance of a Saudi journalist in Turkey.
Earlier this month, Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi dissident and Washington Post columnist, disappeared after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last week. Turkish officials accuse the Saudis of murdering Khashoggi. They also claim an audio recording captured moments of his “interrogation, torture, and killing,” a Turkish newspaper reported. The Saudis have denied the allegations.
Khashoggi, a legal resident of the U.S., has criticized the Saudi government, including Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Continetti discussed Khashoggi’s disappearance on Fox News’ “Special Report,” where he pointed out that there is still a lack of evidence about what happened to Khashoggi.
“I think a lot of people on Capitol Hill [are] looking for answers and evidence, as well as in the administration,” Continetti said.
“We also have to remember that the Saudi-U.S. alliance carries great costs and has carried great costs for decades, but if that alliance were to break, there would be costs as well,” Continetti continued. “So as we evaluate the punishment that should be meted out if the crime should be proven, we have to keep in mind that what the Middle East doesn’t need is another failed state.”
Some American lawmakers want the U.S. to take action against the Saudis. A bipartisan group of senators have called for sanctions against Saudis responsible for Khashoggi’s disappearance, and Sen. Rand Paul (R., Ky.) wants a vote on ending arms sales and military aid to Saudi Arabia.
In a column published Friday, Continetti argued for a more cautious approach.
“Before taking action, congressmen and administration officials ought to think seriously and dispassionately about the potential fallout of the course advocated by Senator Paul,” Continetti wrote. “It would not benefit anyone, least of all the United States, if Iran ends up gaining the most from the Khashoggi affair.”
“A Saudi meltdown would deprive the United States of a counterterrorist ally, roil energy markets, create pockets of instability in which jihadists and Iranian-backed militias thrive, and cause headaches for Israel,” Continetti continued in his column.
Continetti added that the Saudis should be punished if they murdered Khashoggi, but offered three points for consideration: “the penalty must fit the crime; neither democracy nor peace is likely to follow the end of the House of Saud; and the morality of cable news and the op-ed page counts for little in the ruthless, brutal, conspiratorial, and bloody Middle East.”