Saudi journalist's life in danger for writing pro-Israel article

Abdul Hameed al-Ghobain says his citizenship was revoked, life threatened for saying Arab states should have better relations with Israel.

Yochanan Visser ,

Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
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Lately, there has been some euphoria in Israel about the warming of ties with Arab Gulf countries including Saudi Arabia but the story below shows that we still have a long way to go before relations with those states will be normalized.

Saudi journalist Abdul Hameed al-Ghobain on Tuesday sent out a press release in which he said his citizenship had been revoked and in which he claimed he was convinced that Saudi King Salman and his son crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) didn’t know about this.

Al-Ghobain, who's residing in Saudi Arabia, wrote he “would like to confirm that the sad decision has not come from the Royal Court, or from His Royal Highness Muhammad Bin Salman.”

“This by itself makes the decision illegal and contrary to Saudi Arabia's constitution, which dictates that the granting and revoking of citizenship must be authorized by the King or the Crown Prince,” al-Ghobain continued before declaring his loyalty to the King, MBS and his country.

“As I put my total confidence behind the leadership of His Royal Highness Muhammad Bin Salman, I hereby confirm that I won't think twice nor hesitate before I give my life for my country and leadership, and comparing to my life, citizenship would be a very small thing to give for the sake of the public interest,” the Saudi journalist wrote in the press release.

The problems al-Ghobain is currently experiencing could be related to his activities to promote peace with Israel and to find an alternative solution to the Arab-Israel conflict that doesn’t include a Palestinian state in Israel’s ancestral homeland Judea and Samaria.

In August al-Ghobain wrote an op-ed for the Israel free-copy newspaper Yisrael Hayom in which he claimed that “Saudi Arabia has taken a very open stance of seeking better ties to the Jewish people and to Israel.”

Some call this "normalization." I call it plain common sense,” the Saudi journalist wrote adding that the Saudis now see Israel as “a logical future partner” because the two countries have common enemies.

These enemies are “Iran, the Muslim Brotherhood, al-Qaida, and a handful of reckless rulers who remain in power in our region,” according to al-Ghobain.

He then went on leveling harsh criticism at Jordan and the Palestinian Authority who have attacked Saudi Arabia for seeking to establish normalization with Israel.

The Saudi journalist predicted that Jordan would eventually become the Palestinian state since it is essentially already such a state where a large majority of the population is from Palestinian origin.

Al-Ghobain also criticized Jordan for neglecting the Al-Aqsa Mosque and made the case for Saudi custody of what the Arabs call Haram al-Sharif, the Temple Mount.

In an interview with Arutz Sheva Abdul Hameed al-Ghobain explained that he last week found out that his file and that of his wife and seven children had been erased from the archives of the Saudi Interior Ministry which is comparable to the Department of Homeland Security in the United States.

When he tried to get an explanation he received no reply.

The fact that his file and those of his family members have been erased means that he’s no longer considered a citizen said the Saudi journalist.

As an example, he gave the situation of his oldest child that is studying at a Saudi college. She’s no longer able to attend classes al-Ghobain said.

He then reiterated his confidence in the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman who he earlier praised as a sincere reformer.

“People not related to MBS have done this and they could harm me or my family,” al-Ghobain told Arutz Sheva.

Asked why he thinks that MBS or King Salman are not involved in the removal of his file and those of his family the Saudi journalist said that if the leadership had been involved a different procedure would have been followed.

“The King or the Crown Prince need to approve the procedure to strip someone of his citizenship after which the royal decree will be published,” al-Ghobain said.

The Saudi journalist, who said he never visited Israel, denied he has plans to leave Saudi-Arabia currently and repeated that he trust the Crown Prince MBS and his father.

Last year, MBS came under fire for ordering the killing of another Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi who was murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.

MBS initially denied any Saudi involvement in the murder of Khashoggi who had been writing critical articles about the regime in Riyadh for The Washington Post after he chose to live in self-imposed exile in the US.

Khashoggi, whose thinking was aligned with the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood, was lured into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul after he tried to obtain papers for his marriage.

MBS has made conflicting statements on Kashoggi’s murder initially claiming the journalist has left the consulate in Istanbul unharmed and denying any involvement but under tremendous international pressure, he later admitted Kashoggi had been killed by a team of Saudis saying it was “a heinous crime”.

American intelligence services later determined that MBS had lied about his role of the Khashoggi assassination and said they have evidence the Saudi Crown Prince had ordered his killing.

Khashoggi’s body was never found by the Turks because the Saudi team dismembered his body and apparently used chemicals to flush his remains down the toilet.

Al-Ghobain’s extensive praise of MBS and his father King Salman in his press-release could something have to do with fear he will meet the same fate as Khashoggi.




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