News analysis

World watches as Khashoggi case puts Washington on the spot

The disappearance - and very possibly the gruesome murder - of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, at the hands of the Saudi state, presents a quandary for the Trump administration, and also a watershed that is being closely watched by the rest of the world.

Failure to hold a government to account for the enforced disappearance of a person because that government is an ally, and - as US President Donald Trump has mentioned more than once in recent days - buys billions of dollars worth of military hardware from the US, may be a cynical exercise in realpolitik at one level, but at another will send a signal to other governments around the world as to how much they can potentially get away with.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 14, 2018, with the headline 'World watches as Khashoggi case puts Washington on the spot'. Print Edition | Subscribe