Following the death, on August 25, 2018, of Republican U.S. senator John McCain, Khalid Al-Suleiman eulogized him in his column in the Saudi government daily 'Okaz. Titled "The Last of the Honorable American Politicians," the column describes McCain as a serious and wise politician who stuck to his principles throughout his career and kept his integrity, even as U.S. political discourse grew increasingly vulgar and adversarial. Al-Suleiman also praised McCain as one who understood the situation in the Middle East, including the importance of U.S.-Saudi relations and the danger represented by Iran.
It should be noted that the Saudi Ambassador to the U.S., Khalid bin Salman, also mourned McCain in an August 26 tweet, in which he wrote: "Sincerest condolences to the American people on the loss of John McCain, an American hero who dedicated his life to serving his country and advancing global peace and security. He was a great friend of the Kingdom, a truly respected and trustworthy statesman. We will miss him."
The following are translated excerpts from the column of Saudi journalist Khalid Al-Suleiman:
John McCain (image: Alarabiya.net)
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"With the death of U.S. Senator John McCain, the U.S. political scene lost one of its more honorable, serious and wise legislators. Whoever followed his 2008 [presidential] campaign against Barack Obama remembers how he rose above the vitriolic sparring and rejected several Republican proposals to adopt [tactics] that would have hurt his opponent. In short, he was an honorable rival who led an honorable campaign and lost with dignity. I remember that, at a campaign rally, he opposed offensive calls against Obama made by some members of the audience, stressing that his way in politics was to defend supreme values rather than personally attack [his opponents].
"[McCain] is one of the last politicians of the old guard... [and as such] he witnessed the changes in the American political arena, which in recent years has adopted a style of partisan rivalry that has crossed every line, with steadily declining discourse, deliberate distortions, and unrestrained competitiveness.
"McCain's entire political career was marked by loyalty to his political principles, and he defended these values to the end as he waged his last political campaign: against his party's own [presidential] candidate who [later] became the elected president, Donald Trump. For [McCain], loyalty to principles overcame blind loyalty to the party, and this made him different and earned him a unique status, for which he will be remembered in the annals of the U.S. Congress. Indeed, a leader of the minority Democratic party, [Chuck Schumer,] has called to name one of the [Senate] buildings after him as an act of respect and to immortalize his name.
"As for the Middle East, [McCain] always understood the importance of the relations with Saudi Arabia in securing America's strategic interests, and the need to preserve these [relations]. He criticized the Middle East policy endorsed by Obama, who failed to understand the danger posed by Iran to the stability of the region and to U.S. interests in it."