Politics

Trump Criticism Over Khashoggi Death Unfair, Advocate Says

Global Faith Institute director says president's response to Saudi crisis is consistent with 'America First' policy

Image Credit: MOHAMMED AL-SHAIKH/AFP/Getty Images/CatchTheFire.com

Scorn heaped on President Donald Trump over his handling of the death of a foreign journalist misses the point, according to a former Muslim imam who now advocates on behalf of the victims of radical Islam.

The past week has brought much speculation over why Trump has not swiftly condemned Saudi Arabia over the apparent murder of Jamal Khashoggi (pictured above left), a Washington Post writer and U.S. resident who reportedly died while in Saudi custody inside the country’s consulate in Turkey.

Trump dispatched Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Saudi Arabia Tuesday but has withheld judgment pending the outcome of an investigation.

Mark Christian, executive director of the Global Faith Institute (GFI), said on “The Laura Ingraham Show” Thursday that Trump’s response is consistent with his belief in due process but also aligns with his recognition that Saudi Arabia has helped advance American interests in the Middle East on a number of fronts.

“Trump is not backing up the Saudis because he loves dictators or for personal gain, because this is nonsense,” Christian (pictured above right) said. “He’s doing this because the Saudi government, the current Saudi government, is doing good work that helps the United States. And he’s an ‘America First,’ and ‘America interest’ president.”

“If you listen to Trump … before this incident broke out, he embarrassed the Saudi government publicly at least four times.”

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Trump himself urged patience Wednesday. He told reporters in the Oval Office that he would wait to hear from Pompeo, who also visited with Turkish officials on his Middle Eastern trip.

The president noted the complexity of the U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia.

“I’m not giving cover at all,” he said. “With that being said, Saudi Arabia’s been a very important ally of ours in the Middle East. We are stopping Iran. We’re not trying to stop Iran; we’re stopping Iran.”

Pompeo told reporters Thursday that he recommended to the president that Saudi Arabia have a few more days to look into the incident.

Christian (shown above right) said the Saudi government has arrested 500 extremist imams and is helping fight the radical Muslim Brotherhood. He said he is hopeful the United States soon will announce a breakthrough on the long-running Arab-Israeli dispute and that Saudi Arabia is the key to that.

“So Donald Trump is supporting, you know, the current leadership in Saudi Arabia because of those reasons, and those reasons alone,” he said.

What’s more, Christian said, it simply is not true that Trump has not confronted Saudi Arabia.

“If you listen to Trump … before this incident broke out, he embarrassed the Saudi government publicly at least four times, and that was his big media thing going on in the Middle East,” he said.

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Christian questioned the timing of the incident, noting that Turkey made the accusation just after releasing American Christian pastor Andrew Brunson, who had been held for two years in the increasingly autocratic state.

The GFI director drew a parallel between the way Democrats have approached the issue and how the party has responded to a migrant caravan headed to the United States.

“The Democrats and the Left and the media that supports the Left are crazy, and they have rotten ideas,” he said.

Liberals have seized on the caravan, Christian said, because they are dismayed by polls showing Trump maintaining higher levels of support among Hispanics than they believed would be the case.

“What they are trying to do is try to divide and to try to make the Hispanic votes jump into the booths and try to vote for that,” he said.

Added Christian: “Hispanic [voters] who are real Americans can see through this.”

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