Prominent evangelical leader Pat Robertson on Khashoggi crisis: Let’s not risk ‘100 billion dollars in arms sales’

A major evangelical leader has come to the defense of US-Saudi relations after the apparent murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in a Saudi consulate, saying America has more important things – like arms deals – to focus on.

Pat Robertson, founder of the Christian Broadcasting Network, appeared on his flagship TV show The 700 Club on Monday to warn Americans of deteriorating US-Saudi relations following Khashoggi’s death.

“For those crying blood for the Saudis – look, these people are key allies,” Robertson said. While he called the faith of the Wahabists – the radical Islamist sect to which the Saudi royal family belongs – “distasteful”, he urged viewers to remember that “we have an arms deal that everyone wanted a piece… it will be a lot of jobs, a lot of money going into our coffers. It’s not something you want to blow up willy-nilly.

Robertson praised the approach of President Donald Trump, who publicly questioned the allegations against the Saudis, comparing them to those of sexual assault against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh earlier this month. On Wednesday, after the New York Times reported that it had obtained the audio of Khashoggi being tortured, murdered and dismembered inside the consulate, Turkish newspaper Yeni Safak reported that Trump said he had requested the recording, “if it exists”, later adding “I’m not sure it exists.”

A day later, Robertson redoubled his efforts, reappearing on the network to dismiss calls for any form of retaliation against the Saudis as “misguided”, in part because of Saudi Arabia’s hardline stance against Iran. , which Robertson identified as a bigger threat.

“You have a journalist – who knows? Was it an interrogation? Was he murdered? Were there any rogue elements? Who did it?…You have $100 billion in arms sales…we can’t alienate our biggest player in the Middle East.

Khashoggi, a Saudi citizen and longtime critic of the Saudi royal family, was a permanent resident of the United States, where he moved after determining it was unsafe to stay in his home country. Khashoggi spent the last year as a columnist for the Washington Post, where he regularly published inflammatory articles critical of Saudi Arabia and its leaders.

Khashoggi disappeared two weeks ago in Istanbul during a routine visit to the Saudi consulate there to obtain documents for his upcoming wedding.

Robertson’s position is consistent with his broader and unqualified support for President Trump’s policies in recent years. Since Trump’s inauguration, the Christian Broadcasting Network has become a de facto propaganda channel for the administration, airing programs that, for example, suggest that Donald Trump has been chosen by God to become president. In return, Robertson has often been granted rare access for sit-down interviews with Trump, during which he typically asks about Trump’s softball.

It’s unclear whether Trump’s stance on Khashoggi will change following the latest reporting from The Times. For now, he argues that the Saudis should be considered – like Brett Kavanaugh – innocent until proven guilty, and that “rogue killers” may be behind Khashoggi’s disappearance. Trump has previously praised the Saudis for spending “$40 or $50 million” buying Trump properties, and members of the royal family have frequently stayed at Trump properties, or in one case paid to stay without showing up, a decision that significantly improved the Trump. Annual turnover of Hotel International.

Earlier this week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who may be responsible for Khashoggi’s assassination, for a smile photo op.

In this context, Robertson’s comments make perfect sense. Throughout the Trump administration, CBN’s role has always been to legitimize the president’s actions with his white evangelical base. During the migrant family separation crisis, for example, longtime Trump adviser (and prosperity gospel preacher) Paula White appeared on the channel to remind viewers that Jesus never broke the law. immigration law to support the idea that Christians should not feel sympathy towards refugees on the grounds that Jesus – according to the biblical account of his stay in Egypt as a child – was one too.

Barry F. Howard