Turkish authorities have launched an investigation into the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist. The investigation will include a Turkish search of the premises of the Saudi Arabian Consulate.
On October 2nd the well-known journalist, went into the Saudi representative office in Istanbul to obtain a marriage document. His Turkish fiancée was waiting outside. She said that he never came back. Eight days later he is yet to come out, according to Turkish Police
On October 9th, during a press conference in Budapest, Turkish President Recep Taiyyp Erdogan said the following: “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 also said that the consulate should have CCTV cameras and should be fully able to show footage of Khashoggi leaving the premises. Airport exits, and entrances are being controlled as the Justice Ministry and the chief prosecutor in Istanbul “started an investigation and efforts are continuing,” according to Erdogan.
CNN cited Yasin Aktay, a political adviser to Erdogan, who believes that the journalist was killed. “I personally think the possibility of him being killed is stronger than other possibilities, although I do not want to accept it. Because if he was alive, Saudis would provide evidence that he is alive,” CNN cited Aktay during a phone interview. “If he is not in the consulate and if he did not leave through the normal ways, he might have left sedated or left in pieces.”
He said that the Turkish authorities are not ignoring any evidence and that the Saudi side is not “sharing any convincing explanations on what happened inside the building.”
Turkish Anadolu Agency reported that on the day Khashoggi went missing, fifteen Saudi Arabian nationals arrived in Istanbul on two planes and visited the consulate, citing police sources. All 15 other visitors have since left the consulate and Turkey itself.
Saudi Arabia denies any involvement in the disappearance. According to a Saudi official cited by CNN, Khashoggi left the consulate shortly after his visit. The consulate has not released any footage or evidence to back their claims.
On October 9th, Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said that they have been allowed to search the Saudi Arabian consulate for traces of Jamal Khashoggi.
Jamal Khashoggi was born in Media and studied in the US at Indiana State University. In the 1980s he returned to Saudi Arabia and worked as a journalist for regional newspapers covering the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
Following that he covered major events in the region, such as the first Gulf War in Kuwait.
In 1999 he became the deputy editor of the English-language Arab News newspaper. In 2003 he became editor of the Al Watan newspaper, but he was fired just two months later because he published stories that were critical of the Saudi clerical establishment. He then moved to London, and returned to Al Watan in 2007, but due to further controversy left three years later.
Jamal left Saudi Arabia for the US in 2017. According to his first article in the Washington Post, he and several others had left Saudi Arabia because they feared of being arrested.
Khashoggi said dozens of people had been detained in an apparent crackdown on dissidents under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has been pioneering an ambitious economic and social reform program in the country.
He also accused the Saudi government of pressuring the publisher of the Arabic daily newspaper Al-Hayat to cancel his column and said he was told to stop tweeting to his 1.8 million followers warning to be cautious of Trump’s election prior
“I have left my home, my family and my job, and I am raising my voice. To do otherwise would betray those who languish in prison. I can speak when so many cannot. I want you to know that Saudi Arabia has not always been as it is now. We Saudis deserve better,” he wrote.
The Saudi journalist also accused the Saudi government of ignoring real extremists in its supposed crackdown on corruption.
In his final column before disappearing, he criticized Saudi intervention in the Yemeni conflict.
After Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud came into power, he began a massive “anti-corruption crackdown” on members of the clans competing within the Saudi royal family. Numerous people were detained or went missing.
Saudi Arabia has always been known for some sharp disregards of human rights. Examples are its conduct in the intervention in Yemen, as well as the recent diplomatic row with Canada regarding human rights violations. Its support of terrorist groups is also not a secret, in the case of Al-Qaeda and other radicals.
It would be no surprise if Khashoggi, as one more opponent of the Crown Prince was simply killed off.
The incident will cause further deterioration of Saudi-Turkish relations.
The interests of the two countries recently clashed in Syria where Ankara sides with Moscow to boost its own influence. In turn, Saudi Arabia spent millions supporting militant groups, which are now fully defeated or seeking patronage from Turkey.
Turkey also supported Qatar in its standoff with the Saudi-led bloc and even opened a military base in the country. This became another blow to the Saudi regional policy.
In case of the further deterioration of relations between the Qatar-Turkey bloc and the Saudi-UAE-Israel alliance, Ankara and Doha will likely contribute additional efforts to strengthen their ties with alternative regional and global power centers, like China, Iran and Russia.