U.S Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Tuesday amid growing evidence that the Saudis orchestrated the brutal murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Pompeo traveled to Riyadh at the behest of President Donald Trump to get answers on Khashoggi’s death as Trump tries to salvage a $110 billion arms deal with the Saudis.
The United States and Saudi Arabia are “strong and old allies. We face our challenges together — the past, the day of tomorrow,” MBS told reporters after meeting with Pompeo.
But the smiley, jovial images coming out of the meeting are sending a message that one man’s life is less valuable than the sale of weapons to a country known for its funding of terrorist activity.
Republican strategist and vocal Trump critic Ana Navarro tweeted that the Saudis “just chopped-up a journalist who was a US Permanent Resident. He lived in the US. He worked at a US company. What in the hell is there to smile about? Disgusting.”
Activist Leah McElrath had a much harsher take on the photo-op.
“Pompeo met with MBS in Saudi Arabia today. This photo op was a choice,” she tweeted. “A choice that sends a signal to the world: ‘Assassinate perceived dissidents with impunity. This administration will smile by your side.'”
Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin, a colleague of Khashoggi, said that the “suckuppery” to Saudi Arabia was “nauseating.”
Trump has boasted that the sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia would create hundreds of thousands of American jobs and that it’s better for the world if the Saudis purchase American-made weapons of war, rather than those of China or Russia.
Trump has vowed “severe punishment” if the Saudis were directly responsible for Khashoggi’s death but has reaffirmed his commitment to the weapons sale
This is fueling a firestorm of dissent on social media.
Business as usual is not sitting well with the viewing public.
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Some would be happy to oblige.
That's not how this works.