Tom Carnegie Rathbone
Naked Politics Blogger
Jamal Khashoggi was reported missing on 2nd October after visiting a Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, to receive documents that would give him permission to marry his fiancé.
Claims have surfaced from Turkey that a Saudi Arabian hit squad were behind the attack and have either killed or abducted Khashoggi.
Khashoggi is a journalist, living in self-exile from the Saudi Arabian kingdom for being critical of its regime. Mainly living in the U.S, he was recently giving a talk in the U.K before his visit to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
It took four days for the consulate to open its doors to media on 6th October, fuelling suspicion as to any Saudi involvement in the matter. There is CCTV evidence of him entering the consulate but none of him exiting to meet his fiancé, who can be seen waiting outside for him on the day of his disappearance. In addition, a Turkish media source reported that a large group of consulate employees were told to finish work early and leave.
Speculation has now turned towards the potential plot of a Saudi hit-squad arriving at the consulate and either killing or abducting Khashoggi.
Support for this theory comes from a Turkish security source which claims a video has surfaced in which Khashoggi’s voice, along with men speaking Arabic, can be heard.
Moreover, a source has told the Washington Post, which Khashoggi was a columnist for, that an interrogation and torturing can be heard in the video. It also adds that the video shows the dismemberment of Khashoggi.
It is unclear at present whether anyone other than the Turkish officials have seen this video. Only unnamed sources have given the details supposedly shown in the footage.
Another theory brings to light a suspicious convoy of cars that entered the Consulate and proceeded to wait for some time before journeying to an airport where the passengers immediately took two private jets to separate destinations.
In a recent statement, Turkish President Erdogan has targeted the consulate officials saying that they cannot save themselves by simply saying “he has left”. Moreover, President Trump of the U.S also commented on the incident and answered “I would rather not say, but yes” when asked if he has been in contact with Saudi Arabia yet.
In a further development, the U.K and U.S have both drawn lines against Saudi Arabia by boycotting a very large investment summit being held next month.
Currently, Turkish media is speculating the involvement of around 15 Saudi men who entered the country on the day of Khashoggi’s disappearance and despite having reservations for a further five days, they left on the same day – 2ndOctober.
The media in Saudi Arabia has been playing down the incident and waiting for Turkey and Western countries to provide solid proof of their involvement. One of their papers Al Yaum has accused foreign media of “spreading poison in honey” as the BBC reports. Claiming that the incident is being used a catalyst to inflame negativity towards the Saudi Kingdom.
This incident involving Khashoggi comes only a few weeks after Saudi officials arrested an Egyptian man working in a Saudi hotel because he was having breakfast with a female colleague. This incident equally caught media attention and raised questions against the legitimacy of the new Saudi Crown Prince, Mohamed bin Salman’s supposed revolutionary turn towards liberalism.
There haven’t been any major developments regarding Khashoggi’s fate since his disappearance but international media attention has been gaining a lot of momentum, adding further pressure onto Saudi Arabia for answers.
If found guilty, not only will Saudi Arabia have broken a vital international law by sending affiliates to take out one of their own citizens in another state. They will also face a severe backlash from the international community and potentially receive sanctions from allies such as the U.S., who recently under the Trump administration settled on the largest trade deal in history.