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Trump Advisor Has Controversial Thoughts on Khashoggi Murder

Trump's inaugural committee chair says America shouldn't criticize Saudi Arabia over the killing
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 13, 2019 1:46 PM CST
In this Jan. 10, 2017 file photo, Tom Barrack, chairman of the inaugural committee, speaks with reporters in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

(Newser) – The man who led President Trump's inaugural committee said America is in no moral position to criticize Saudi Arabia over the killing of Saudi columnist Jamal Khashoggi, the AP reports. "Whatever happened in Saudi Arabia, the atrocities in America are equal, or worse," Tom Barrack, a real estate developer, said Tuesday at the Milken Institute MENA Summit in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. His remarks were reported by Dubai's daily English newspaper, Gulf News. The report said Barrack strongly defended Saudi Arabia, saying the kingdom is misunderstood by the West. Despite international outrage, Trump decided not to impose harsher penalties on Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman over the October death and dismemberment of the Washington Post columnist, who lived in Virginia and had written articles critical of the kingdom, inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.

Critics in Congress and high-ranking officials in other countries accused Trump of ignoring human rights and giving Saudi Arabia a pass for economic reasons, including its influence on the world oil market. Barrack, a private equity investor whom the Washington Post describes as a developer with close ties to the Middle East, expressed support for the crown prince, who is pursing reforms in the kingdom. He said Western countries don't understand the internal dynamics of Saudi Arabia. "The West is confused, it doesn't understand the rule of law in the kingdom, it doesn't understand what succession in the kingdom is, it doesn't understand how there can be a dilemma with a population that has 60% of people under the age of 20," Barrack said, according to Gulf News. He later added, "The corrupt hand of the West has been the primary instigator in the kingdom, and in the resource curse across the region forever."

(Read more Jamal Khashoggi stories.)

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