Date :Tuesday, October 9th, 2018 | Time : 10:08 |ID: 73670 | Print

Khashoggi issue: the new Saudi challenge

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SHAFAQNA- Turkish officials believe that missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and his body later driven from the compound. But Saudi Arabia has denied it, insisting Mr. Khashoggi left shortly after he arrived. The dispute over his disappearance threatened to upend relations between two of the region’s most important powers.

Turkey now finds itself in the position of being a champion for a journalist who vanished under its nose, but it has so far taken a cautious stance. Riyadh has vehemently denied playing a role in Khashoggi’s disappearance.

Speaking at a press conference in Budapest, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Saudi Arabia should prove that missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi has, in fact, left the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

After six days of silence from the Trump administration, today the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, issued a statement saying that “We call on the government of Saudi Arabia to support a thorough investigation of Mr Khashoggi’s disappearance and to be transparent about the results of that investigation.”

Earlier other western countries increased the pressure on Riyadh which has claimed that Khashoggi had left the Istanbul alive, a claim questioned by Turkish officials. The UK foreign office said reports Khashoggi was abducted or killed by the Saudi government were “extremely serious allegations”. The French foreign ministry said Khashoggi was “a recognised and respected Saudi figure”, The Guardian reported.

Jamal Khashoggi, Washington Post columnist disappeared inside Saudi consulate. He entered the consulate to sign the divorce papers, a necessary step for him to marry his Turkish fiance, who was waiting for him outside.

According to reuters, Turkish authorities believe Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed inside his country’s consulate in Istanbul last week, Turkish sources said, in what they described as the deliberate targeting of a prominent critic of the Persian Gulf kingdom’s rulers.

Erdogan: ‘I am chasing’ the investigation into prominent Saudi journalist

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he is personally “chasing” the investigation into prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi who went missing after entering the Saudi Arabian Consulate in Istanbul last week.

The President’s comments came after unnamed Turkish officials told the The Washington Post and Reuters that Khashoggi was killed inside the consulate. The officials have so far provided no evidence or details on how they arrived at this conclusion.

“I am following it up as the President of the Turkish Republic,” Erdogan told reporters in Ankara on Sunday, while also confirming that he had known Khashoggi for some time and considered him as a friend.

“I am chasing. We will of course share the result with the world,” Erdogan added.

Saudi Arabia has strenuously denied any involvement in Khashoggi’s disappearance, calling the claims “false.” A Saudi official said Khashoggi left the consulate shortly after he visited. The Saudis did not, however, release any surveillance footage or other evidence, CNN reported.

“He entered the general consulate himself and if he has entered by himself and if he did not exit it, of course this should be proven by the general consulate,” Erdogan said at a press conference in Budapest.

Erdogan said the Saudi consulate should have CCTV cameras and should be able to show the video of Khashoggi leaving the building. He mentioned that there are no documents or evidence that show the journalist departing.

The Justice Ministry and the chief prosecutor in Istanbul “started an investigation and efforts are continuing,” Erdogan said. Airport entrances and exits are being investigated.

There is not enough evidence

Investigators have made no claims about where Khashoggi’s remains may be, and some police units continue to believe there is not enough evidence to state authoritatively that the 59-year-old is dead. But all say he was at the very least abducted in a brazen state kidnapping that is likely to have broad implications in Turkey and beyond.

Investigators have examined five days of security camera footage that captured all those entering and leaving both entrances to the consulate. Their attention was drawn to men from inside the building moving boxes to a black car in the hours after Khashoggi vanished, Guardian reported.

A critic of Saudi policy in the Yemen war

A former newspaper editor in Saudi Arabia and adviser to its former head of intelligence, Khashoggi left the country last year saying he feared retribution for his criticism of Saudi policy in the Yemen war and its crackdown on dissent.

During the Saudi- and American-backed jihad against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan in the 1980s, Mr. Khashoggi made a name for himself by interviewing the militant leader Osama bin Laden, who later founded Al Qaeda, and served twice as editor of Al Watan newspaper, NYtimes told.

Khashoggi gained a wide following with his appearances on Arab satellite television networks.

A year ago, Khashoggi left Saudi Arabia after he said the authorities had instructed him to stop tweeting.

Khashoggi had a regular column for the Washington Post and had also written for the Guardian. In his columns in the Washington Post, Khashoggi had been escalating his criticism of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman: accusing him of repressing the Saudi people, creating a mess in Lebanon and prosecuting a cruel war in Yemen.

Turkey involved in the case of missing Saudi journalist 

The Turkish leader’s position reflects the delicate balance of interests between Ankara and Riyadh, two regional heavyweights who remain at odds on pivotal issues, such as the Saudi-led blockade with Qatar, the status of the Muslim Brotherhood and the 2013 military coup in Egypt. Turkey remains resolutely in Doha’s camp on the Qatar standoff, however its officials prefer to direct their enmity at the United Arab Emirates, rather than Riyadh, with which they try to remain on neutral terms.

Khashoggi’s disappearance may cause additional tensions with the U.S

Khashoggi’s disappearance comes at time that U.S. President Donald Trump has heaped particular pressure on Saudi Arabia to do more to ease oil prices. If he was murdered as alleged by the Turkish official, it may cause additional tensions with the U.S. Senate, Bloomberg noticed.

The Trump family – in particular the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner – has established a close bond with Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Khashoggi is a US resident and a contributor to the Washington Post, but until Monday afternoon, the state department had stuck to a low-key response, offering only a single-line comment on Khashoggi’s disappearance that said: “We are not in a position to confirm these reports, but we are closely following the situation.”

After six days of silence from the Trump administration, today the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, issued a statement saying that “We call on the government of Saudi Arabia to support a thorough investigation of Mr Khashoggi’s disappearance and to be transparent about the results of that investigation.”

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