Elite soiree with known human rights abuser stained by accusation of human rights abuse

Mark Landler and Kate Kelly of the New York Times published a curiously-framed piece titled, “‘Davos in the Desert,’ a Saudi Prince’s Glittering Showcase, Is Stained by a Grisly Accusation.” The Saudi prince in question is Mohammed bin Salman. Many analysts, politicians, and others suspect bin Salman in the disappearance and probable murder of Saudi journalist and dissident Jamal Khashoggi. See here for a rundown of that story by Vox’s Alexia Underwood.

The Times piece recounts the sudden squeamishness of many world elites after the troubling and unresolved story of Khashoggi’s disappearance.

In my opinion, it’s curious that these elites did not think that their fun vacation was already stained. For relevant context, here are some pieces from two major human rights organizations, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International:

Saudi Crown Prince Must Answer For Atrocities In Yemen” (March 18th, 2018)

Saudi Arabia should invest in human rights, not PR campaigns” (March 29th, 2018)

Mohammed Bin Salman Deserves Sanctions, Not the Red Carpet” (April 9th, 2018)

Saudi Arabia: Growing Crackdown on Women’s Rights Activists” (May 23rd, 2018)

For Saudi Women, Freedom to Drive Masks New Crackdown” (June 22nd, 2018)

One might also take a look at the overall human rights reports from HRW and AI covering recent years: see here and here.

This is just a smattering from two major human rights organizations. In light of such widely available public information, is there any reason to take seriously the alleged newfound discomfort from the elite interests attending “Davos in the Desert”? Perhaps more importantly, is there any reason for newspapers like the New York Times to frame a story about this discomfort as if it is authentic?


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