Nizar Hamdoon and Jamal Khashoggi: Birds of a Feather.


Hamdoon (Left) on the cover of Washington Post Magzine 1985, right Khashoggi (right) on the front page of the Washington Post 2018

What do Nizar Hamdoon and  Jamal Khasghoggi have in common? Seemingly very little. Hamdoon,  was an Iraqi from Mosul appointed by Saddam as Iraq’s Ambassador to the United States from 1984 to 1988 and later to the UN from 1992 to 1998. J

Khashoggi  was a Saudi, once deeply embraced by the Saudi regime, manager of Saudi financed  Al Arab News Channel, and editor of a Saudi newspaper Al Watan, termed by some as a “progressive ” Saudi news outlet. He has always been known as sympathetic, if not an enthusiastic, supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood, Generally speaking it would seem that the Wahhabi state Jidadism of Saudi Arabia would embrace the equally Islamist Muslim Brotherhood but in fact the Jihadism of the Muslim Brotherhood is far more nuanced than the Wahhabi brand of Islamism of Saudi Arabia…and also for that reason far more dangerous.

As so often happens radical movements clash and eat each other, as we have observed from the Bolshevik revolution to the antipathy between fellow Ba’athists  Saddam  Hussein and Hafez Assad. ( even ISIS and Al Qaeda)

A Graduate of Indiana  State University,  Khashoggi was also  a man who moved easily in the Washington DC and among the  self-appointed “elite”  who promote their social standing by having at least one radical as a “friend” to present at cocktail parties. Urbane and well spoken he could put together Muslim Brotherhood, Sharia, and Democracy in one  well turned sentence, endearing him to the chattering class. He came from a very well endowed family of rich arms dealers,  and impeccable ancestry dating from the Ottoman occupiers of  western Arabia. Probably of critical importance to the anointed ones, he was a first cousin of Dodi Fayed, the “friend” of Diana, Princess of Wales, the patron saint of ” those  who know.” With these credentials no wonder he was tightly woven into the fabric of Washington DC media celebrities.

Of course the Saudis with their dour disposition and  grim outlook on life  are hardly anyone’s favorite even among the thousands of Washingtonians getting rich with Saudi Money. But one should keep in mind that Central to the media “anguish” over the Khashoggi story  is the Trump family connection, supposedly with ties with the Saudi royal family. Unable to fix culpability on Trump for hurricane Florence, a fall back option was the apparent demise of Jamal at the hands of Saudis, who,for once took direct action in lieu of paying protection money.

So this is where the name Nizar Hamdoom  comes in. As Saddam’s front man in washington DC he was “immensely popular” ( according to contemporaries at the time) with the  same people in Washington of his era. He threw lavish parties and his attractive wife  were frequently portrayed sympathetically in  the Washington papers.  I met a couple of American analysts on Iraq who were obviously greatly influenced by Hamdoon, and most importantly, their writings on Iraq showed it. How could such a nice man work for this thug Saddam?..Well as the narrative goes, Iraq has an instinct for rebellion (so said my old prof Hannah Battatu) and therefore only a thug like Saddam could hold it together.

No matter how many people suffer under the totalitarianism of the Muslim Brotherhood or Saddam’s Ba’athism, their store front representatives kept the barbarism away from the tender sensibilities of the people who create the trends in political fashion.

Rest in peace Jamal and Nizar. You played your parts well.

About Tex

Retired artillery colonel, many years in a number of positions in the Arab world. Graduate of the US Military Academy and the American University of Beirut. MA in Arab studies from the American University in Beirut along with 18 years as Middle East Seminar Director at the JFK Special Warfare Center and School, Served in Vietnam with 1st Inf Division, Assignments in Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt, plus service with Trucial Oman Scouts in the Persian Gulf. Traveled to every Arab country on the map including Iraq, Syria, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco.
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