In the high-stakes world of geopolitics, countries do not have friends or enemies; they have interests. And those interests are what many countries are considering as they look at the role the Saudi Arabian government may have played in the killing of one of its most prominent critics, journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
The Saudis have now admitted that he died while on the premises of the kingdom’s consular office in Istanbul, Turkey. They said he died in a fistfight and that a number of Saudi government employees have been arrested in connection with the death.
South Africa has, so far, maintained an aloof silence, which is understandable given our country’s interest in, and relations with, Saudi Arabia. We are about to host the Saudis here for an international investment conference and there have been credible reports that the Middle East country is either interested in doing weapons transactions with our parastatal armsmaker and seller Denel – or that they may want to acquire equity in the company.
The Saudis have deep pockets, thanks to the strong international oil price, and they are courted by many around the world for their wealth.
This will be a test for our country’s commitment to international democracy and justice.