April 16, 2020 | The Hill

Iran’s ‘Khashoggi’: Where’s the outrage over the death of Masoud Molavi Vardanjani?

April 16, 2020 | The Hill

Iran’s ‘Khashoggi’: Where’s the outrage over the death of Masoud Molavi Vardanjani?

Excerpt

An exiled dissident in Istanbul from an oil-rich Islamic theocracy was summoned to contact his home country’s embassy. Not long after, agents carrying diplomatic passports from said country directed his assassination. No, this is not the case of the late Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi, but that of the Iranian dissident Masoud Molavi Vardanjani. Though the details of the cases are similar, the fallouts could not be more different. Much of the Western commentariat has given the Islamic Republic a pass, a double standard underscoring how politicized the human-rights cause has become. Many of President Trump’s detractors have subscribed to the old adage, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend,” at the peril of U.S. interests and values.

For years, Khashoggi worked for the Saudi royal family through its media group and for Saudi intelligence. In 2005, he moved to Washington for a few years to be an adviser to the kingdom’s ambassador and then returned to Saudi Arabia. When King Salman rose to power, Khashoggi, accused of supporting the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood, had a falling out with the royal family and in 2017 left for the United States. He began writing Washington Post columns often critical of the Saudi government. They were sometimes shaped by the Qatar Foundation International — Doha has been in an intense cold war with Riyadh for years. Turkish investigators say that in October 2018, Khashoggi was killed by Saudi agents inside the Istanbul consulate.

Jamal Khashoggi’s murder ignited the world’s ire. From Istanbul to Berlin, London to New York, rallies formed outside Saudi offices demanding “Justice for Jamal.” In Washington, a section of New Hampshire Avenue where the Saudi embassy sits was renamed “Jamal Khashoggi Way.” Western governments, nongovernmental organizations, and pundits demanded punishment for the killing. United Nations chief Antonio Guterres called for a “prompt, thorough and transparent investigation” and “full accountability for those responsible.” Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s ambitious initiative to overhaul the kingdom’s economy faltered as foreign investors fled and Western executives backed out of his “Davos in the desert.” Saudi Arabia’s reputation remains tarnished to this day.

Eliora Katz is a research analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Follow her on Twitter @eliorakatz.

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Issues:

Gulf States Iran Iran Global Threat Network Iran Human Rights Iran-backed Terrorism Turkey