Despite what should have always been a “crimson letter” in the wake of his alleged role in the dismemberment of American journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince of one of the world’s most repressive countries, is back in the news flexing his image. monetary muscles.
The Saudi-funded golf league known as LIV Golf began its eight-city tour in London last month. (Chicago’s Rich Harvest Farms will host one of the tournaments in September.) Money for LIV comes from the kingdom’s $620 billion Public Investment Fund. Adding to the PGA Tour’s annoyance, some of its top golfers defected to this new “Premier League”.
The reason is clear: the amount of financial prizes that the Kingdom spends on this league. According to Golf Digest: “The first seven events will boast $25 million each, $20 million for individual prizes and another $5 million for the team competition.”
My friends, this is friendly. All. Not connected. Rial.
The trucks of dirty money made dissidents easily look beyond Khashoggi’s murder. As Phil Mickelson said last November, “It’s scary (expletive) to be involved in. … they killed Khashoggi and they have a terrible human rights record. They execute people there for being gay.”
“Knowing all this, why am I even thinking about it? Because this is a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
A frightened Mickelson somewhere in the neighborhood received $200 million from his “scary” payrollers for signing up for LIV Golf.
The crown prince’s money is now closer to home. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has just announced that Professor Andreas Cangilaris, University Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean, will be exiting Illinois to become the founding president of NEOM U in Saudi Arabia.
If you haven’t heard of NEOM, you’re probably not alone. This is a planned sustainable city, 10,000 square miles, $500 billion dollars located in the deserts of northwest Saudi Arabia. The end date is 2025, but if I was a betting man, I would take the job on the end date.
In his acceptance statement for his new position, Cangilaris said, “To change the world for the better, you need everyone to become an agent of change. This is what NEOM U will do by bringing learners from the Kingdom and the world together in NEOM’s living lab and engaging them in learning how the intentional, responsible and innovative use of technology can improve Our world and the human condition.
For those unfamiliar with academic terminology, let me sum up the above quote in one word: gobbledygook. The Lord knows how many meetings have been held to formulate those words that say nothing.
Most Illinoisers have probably never heard of Kanglaris, even though they were contributing to his six-figure annual salary. Who said there was no good money to work in the country?
Perhaps the teacher of the learned offered his services to the kingdom free of charge. (Maybe I will win the Nobel Prize in Literature this year.) One can only speculate what his new salary will be, but it’s no exaggeration to envision it in the low sevens. Will the new deal include a car and driver, along with a fully furnished, sand-free home, and fully reclining first-class airline seats to carry him to and from NEOM? Will there be a meeting with Mickelson?
General rule: When someone says it’s not about money, it’s always about money. So, should we assume that the scoops of money the Crown Prince throws his way in is Cangellaris’ justification for smearing his excellent resume for a regime that President Joe Biden once called a “pariah”? Before he recently got on his knees begging the kingdom for oil, Biden said there was “very little social redemption value in the current government in Saudi Arabia” and that he would “end selling stuff to Saudis wherever they go and killing children.”
When Canglaris shakes bin Salman’s soft hand, will the “change agent” understand that no criticism of the spoiled prince and the kingdom will be tolerated? Is he aware of the thousands of innocent women and children in Yemen who were killed by the Saudi air force that dropped 500 pound American-made bombs on this poor country? Does he remember that 15 of the 9/11 terrorists came from Saudi Arabia? Have you ever thought about the Khashoggi family?
We humans can justify anything. It’s what makes us so insanely adaptable. Like cockroaches.
Stephen J. Lyon is the author of five books of articles and journalism. His upcoming book, “Looking for a Way Home: Misfortunes with Humans and the Family,” will be published next summer.
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