Whimsical Senator Graham tilting at the wind like Don Quixote


I am still appalled by the sharp shift in the positions taken by US Senator Lindsey Graham from his defense of Saudi Arabia to attacking it with hostility and hatred. If Graham were not known for his moderation and adherence to American values, I would not have written about him.

He is clearly free to choose his positions and policies, but as a member of the US Senate for more than a decade, is he entitled to appoint himself as a judge who accuses whomever he pleases and promotes his personal convictions that are supported by his obsessions without any evidence?

Graham was Saudi Arabia’s ally until recently, when he took an extreme stance toward the Kingdom, especially after the incident concerning Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul last October. He appeared on American TV shows and Western satellite channels making accusations against the Saudi leadership and calling upon the administration of US President Donald Trump to impose sanctions on the Kingdom. He also targeted Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman personally.

After some American media outlets ran out of allegations to make about the Kingdom, especially after Saudi Arabia arrested a number of suspects in the Khashoggi case and the Attorney General called for executing five of them, Graham repeated the same meaningless accusations about the Crown Prince, allegations which have been completely refuted by official Saudi entities.

There is no doubt that Graham is free to choose his positions and to make statements, but he is not entitled to set himself up as a trial lawyer and judge at the same time, especially as he has no evidence other than what he drew from the CIA report, which was rejected by the US administration for its lack of credibility and so as not to harm the strategic historical relationship between Riyadh and Washington.

It is surprising that Graham was a prominent supporter of Saudi Arabia in Congress, especially during the period when he accompanied the late Congressman John McCain, who was a loyal friend of Saudi Arabia in the Republican Party.

Meanwhile, it is unfortunate that Graham launches his charges and issues his convictions outside the judicial process guaranteed by the US Constitution, which grants him immunity from any accountability for what he does or says in his capacity as a representative. This means that any victim of his remarks will not be able to prosecute him in the US justice system. The values enshrined in American law do not allow a person to have his reputation tarnished and to be accused without evidence.

Graham’s insulting remarks about the Kingdom represent unacceptable interference in the nation’s internal affairs. He must understand that Saudi Arabia is a sovereign state and is free to choose its leadership in the light of its mechanisms adopted by the system of the government, the customs of the royal family and allegiance of the Saudi people.

Saudi Arabia has repeatedly declared that Khashoggi’s murder was an unfortunate, rogue and reprehensible act and that it will hold everyone involved in it accountable. The Kingdom has arrested and investigated 18 people in this regard and has asked the prosecution of the Saudi judiciary to execute five of them if they are found guilty. So what more “due process” does Graham want? Does he want justice to take its course or does he want to make things happen according to his own concerns?

Yesterday, Graham was a friend of Saudi Arabia and today he stands in the ranks of the Kingdom’s adversaries, but Saudi-American relations are based on the calculations of two governments and two leaders working to protect and promote policies made for the benefit of the two countries, not for the immediate concerns and emotions of Graham or others.

Graham should recall the words of former US president Eisenhower (1953-1961): “The history of free men is never written by chance but by choice - their choice.” Saudi Arabia has not written its history by accident and it remains a strong and confident young nation capable of facing challenges and responding to fabrications with nothing to fear.

The author is a Saudi writer. Follow him on Twitter: @JameelAlTheyabi