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Washington, DC, USA on 1/10/2019 © Phil Pasquini / Shutterstock

Lindsey Graham Wants MBS “Dealt With”

Is Lindsey Graham the moralizer-in-chief of the Republican Party or has he stepped into the role of devious consigliere and enforcer within Trump’s mafia?

Middle East Eye informs us that Senator Lindsey Graham has not relented in his paradoxical campaign to impeach not his friend and idol, Donald Trump, but beleaguered Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS).

Covering Graham’s trip to Turkey, where he had already met with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the news outlet reports: “‘The relationship between the US and Saudi Arabia cannot move forward until Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman is dealt with,’ the Republican senator said, without being more specific.”

Here is today’s 3D definition: 

Dealt with:

Summarily punished with a hint that elimination is the most logical outcome, an expression commonly employed by the mafia and ambitious politicians

Contextual note

It could be that Graham was pushing a special brand of irony related to the Jamal Khashoggi affair, which, as was widely reported, appeared to be a clear example of how Saudi Arabia “dealt with” its dissidents. That would explain why the senator felt he didn’t need to be “more specific.” Read into it what you will.

There’s nevertheless good reason to believe that Graham would be perfectly content if King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud were to replace MBS as crown prince with another member of the family. But most observers see this as unlikely, if only because the king would lose face with such a decision, having changed the line of succession when he committed to his son instead of the previously designated crown prince, Muhammad bin Nayef.

The particular ambiguity of Graham’s idea of seeing MBS “dealt with” lies in the fact that the reader supposes he is speaking about what his own nation, the United States and the Trump administration, which he supports, might do. But he may be hinting that the Saudi royal family — not necessarily the king, but rather those in the House of Saud whom MBS has alienated — might take it upon themselves to do the dirty work. And rather than finding a new job for Mohammed bin Salman to do, or simply inviting him to retire to his spiffy new Chateau Louis XIV in Louveciennes, France, they might adopt more traditional methods, whether they include dismembering the remains or not.

One of the ironies we discover in reading The New York Times account of Mohammed bin Salman’s opulent faux 17th-century chateau situated only a few kilometers from Versailles is that the promoter who had the castle built for MBS was a certain Emad Khashoggi, the murdered Jamal’s first cousin.

Historical note

The article reminds us that in the aftermath of the Khashoggi scandal, “The United States imposed economic sanctions on 17 Saudi officials,” which of course meant that the Trump administration had no intention of imposing sanctions on Saudi Arabia itself, as it did with Russia after the attempted assassination of Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the UK. In an article that appeared four days after the Khashoggi assassination in October (at that time not yet confirmed), we learn that the Trump administration was mulling over a second round of sanctions against Moscow as a punishment of that incident.

Clearly Trump has no intention of punishing either the Saudi kingdom or the crown prince, whom he treats almost as a member of his own family, especially since he has become the alter ego of Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law.

We are left wondering whether Graham’s insistence on seeing MBS “dealt with” is just a form of grandstanding to make it look like someone has the sense of moral outrage that Trump himself clearly lacks or whether he thinks he can move the president to action in the interest of restabilizing the historically profitable relationship between the two nations that is now compromised by MBS’ criminal audacity. A third hypothesis is that his rhetoric aims at persuading members of the House of Saud that anything they do to “deal with” MBS will be welcomed by the US.

Senator Graham, of course, speaks with no authority, but he is clearly part of somebody’s game plan. Is it Trump’s, the traditional Republican Party’s that has never been comfortable with Trump or his own?

Graham himself is as much of an enigma as US foreign policy has always been in the Middle East.

*[In the age of Oscar Wilde and Mark Twain, another American wit, the journalist Ambrose Bierce, produced a series of satirical definitions of commonly used terms, throwing light on their hidden meanings in real discourse. Bierce eventually collected and published them as a book, The Devil’s Dictionary, in 1911. We have shamelessly appropriated his title in the interest of continuing his wholesome pedagogical effort to enlighten generations of readers of the news.]

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.