Following the scandal over the alleged murder of Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, Armida van Rij, co-author of an ORG commissioned report on the British-Saudi relationship, has been discussing the story on several media outlets.  

Much of the media coverage of the UK-Saudi relationship over the past year has been around the escalation of the Saudi-led war, and the UK's tacit approval of it, in Yemen. In August 2018, nearly 500 civilians alone were killed in what International Rescue described as the deadliest month in three and a half years of the conflict

However, the scandal over the alleged murder of a Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey has piled increasing pressure on countries like the UK - a long-term partner of the Kingdom, both through trade, security assistance and intelligence sharing - to take action. It has also prompted questions about the strategic value of partnering so closely with a country that carries out extrajudicial killings on a NATO ally's soil, especially at a time when the UK has made building its credibility as a global champion of the rules-based international order a central pillar of its foreign policy

Armida van Rij, researcher at King's Policy Institute and co-author with Benedict Wilkinson of the Remote Warfare Programme commissioned report Security cooperation with Saudi Arabia: Is it worth it for the UK?, has been discussing this major news story in the context of this timely piece of research across a number of mainstream news channels. This has occurred at at a time when it appears many Western states are beginning to show a greater willingness to reassess their ties with Mohammad bin Salman's (MBS) Saudi Arabia - who until now was hailed by the West as a great liberal reformer - in the wake of the allegations surrounding Khashoggi's death.

You can watch/listen to the interviews via the following links: 


BBC Radio 4 Today


BBC Breakfast


BBC News Channel


Channel 4 News


The broader picture

This scandal will significantly undermine Mohammed bin Salman's reputation among Western politicians, if not permanently then for a long time to come. Indeed, leading Western states now appear to be taking seriously the concerns raised by NGOs, Think Tanks and academics about the reputational risks associated with such close ties with the Gulf State, known for its weak record on human rights. Ultimately, it seems this scandal has given weight to the conclusion made in KPI's recent report:

The case of the UK-Saudi Arabia relationship has highlighted the challenge, and at times contradiction, of being a liberal state committed to liberal ideals, while at the same time attempting to protect the economic interests of British businesses. 

This could be the defining moment in the UK-Saudi relationship. But this may also serve as the first real test for the credibility of the UK's reinvigorated defence of the international rules-based order.