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Khashoggi murder is test for wannabe human rights advocates like US – Iran’s Rouhani

Khashoggi murder is test for wannabe human rights advocates like US – Iran’s Rouhani
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has said he doesn’t believe the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi would have happened without US protection, adding that the scandal is a test for “advocates” of human rights in the West.

It is believed to be Rouhani’s first public comment on Khashoggi's grim fate and the official did not mince his words. He called out US leader Donald Trump, asking what is more important: a multi billion dollar arms deal with Riyadh, or human rights, which the US repeatedly pledges to defend.

READ MORE: Sale must go on: Trudeau sticks to $12bn arms deal with Saudis despite Khashoggi killing

“Today, the people all over the world are confused. Should they believe your claims about human rights or your announcement that you avoid to comment on the issue for 450 billion dollars.”

Khashoggi, a critic of the Saudi crackdown on dissent and its conduct in the Yemen civil war, disappeared and was subsequently killed in early October. He went missing after entering Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul to collect documents for marriage. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday that the death was a result of a pre-planned operation. The latter, Rouhani alleged, was hardly possible without some kind of backing from Washington. 

I don’t think that a country would dare commit such a crime without the protection of America

Rouhani’s comments come the day after Trump said the Saudi’s had staged the “worst cover-up ever” over Khashoggi’s killing, after he initially backed Saudi claims of innocence suggesting“rogue elements” may have been behind the disappearance and murder.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Trump even alleged that the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman could have been personally implicated in the case. 

"He’s running things and so if anybody were going to be, it would be him.”

Iran had been rather muted in its response to the Khashoggi killing, with remarks of condemnation from senior leaders coming 20 days after Khashoggi was last seen alive.

Speaking on Monday, Sadegh Amoli Larijani, the head of Iran’s judiciary, condemned Riyadh of “first set[ting] out to cover up this crime with the help of the West and recently, when it was forced to acknowledge it to whitewash its corrupt system, [claiming] that some rogue elements committed this crime.”

In his own comments on Wednesday, Rouhani reiterated Larijani’s accusation of US complicity, suggesting it had already been in effect in the Saudi-led war in Yemen.

“If there was no American protection, would the people of Yemen still have faced the same brutal bombing?” he asked.

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