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Doubts over Jamal Khashoggi’s death

It seems that the brutal murder and alleged dismemberment of Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, in Saudi Arabia’s Istanbul consulate is going to continue to receive more focused international attention in time to come. Perhaps unfortunate is the fact that the world now largely depends on the Turkish government’s findings on the case, along with the establishment’s dubious media coverage.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that he would provide ‘naked truth’ on Khashoggi’s killing but he did not touch on how the Saudi journalist died. Erdogan  never mentioned on “video or audio recording” of the killing. Turkish officals also change their statement that they found Khashoggi’s belonging in the abandoned Saudi diplomatic vehicle.

Despite  Saudi’s confirmation of Khashoggi’s death in the consulate, it seems that the fate of the journalist’s corpse will remain a mystery, one which Turkey will surely take advantage of.

Khashoggi’s assailants entered Istanbul casually, without taking care to avoid secure cameras. They checked into Istanbul hotels and allegedly, some even booked more days for shopping. As global pressure mounted over the case, the Saudi Consul General left Turkey, without much hassle it seems, even though he was surely a key figure in the Turkish (or any other) investigation around the murder. A question that needs to be raised is whether Turkey’s intelligence apparatus, MIT, in any way coordinated with the Saudi team tasked with murdering Khashoggi prior to the tragic event. It is unlikely that an agency with capabilities as advanced as MIT, what is essentially becoming a police state, had no knowledge of the arrival of the delegation or their movements and intentions once they entered Turkey. It is also a well-known fact that MIT has no ethical issues with kidnapping or rendition, as evidenced by the kidnapping followers of exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen’s from eighteen countries around the world. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is known for its deplorable human rights record, in spite of their recent attempts to paint itself as a state in reform. However, insufficient light has been placed on Turkey’s role in the case and the country’s ability to shed light on what transpired when Khashoggi’s took those fateful steps into the Saudi consulate.

The Saudis could have been more sure of the US and European reaction to the killing than the Turks, as the oil-rich country is a close ally of the USA since 1953. For Saudi Kingdom it would not have been difficult to silence a journalist in a more covert and uncomplicated way, such as a planned car crash or through hiring an assassin. Renowned Turkish security analyst, Emre Uslu, who is in self-imposed exile in the US says that Saudi Government extradited many Turkish dissidents to Ankara in May 2018 and that in exchange, Turkey might have promised to extradite Khashoggi. This could be part of the reason why the Saudi team arrived in Turkey as tourists. Initially, Saudis might not have planned to brutally kill Khashoggi. As I said, in the region, neighbors always plan traps for each other but they cannot avoid big players’ interference . Interestingly, Turkey vowed to share video and audio recordings of the killing but preferred to wait until US President Donald Trump’s statement and then shared almost nothing, indicating that Turkey is carefully calculating its response to the case, possibly in order to deduce how maximum benefit can be derived from the issue. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu and then proceeded to Jeddah.  Following the meeting, Cavusoglu denied sharing audio recording of the consulate killing.

Pro-Erdogan media outlet Turkish Daily Sabah shared a very interesting detail about the Khashoggi case as follows, “10 minutes after the audio recordings cut off Mercedes Vito van and other cars emerge from the consulate.” A critical detail here is how the Turkish state retrieved “audio” from the Saudi consulate? As yet, it is not clear whether the Turks have such audio or not. Uslu says, if Daily Sabah is providing factual information, it is likely that Khashoggi was wired before he enters into the consulate.

International Media extensively covered the consulate killing and dozens of scenarios have been floated. I firmly believe that if the details of this kind of killing are still kept secret, then it is certain that state interests are involved. In these situations, the media takes over the job of marketing such mysteries to the public, as has been the case with the Turkish state and media over the last two weeks.

Similar to other dubious cases such as the failed 2016 coup, where the Turkish Parliament concluded its investigation without hearing details such as the names of key figures, including Turkey’s Military Commander and Intelligence Head, President Erdogan the Turkish Parliament voted against the investigation of Jamal Khashoggi’s alleged killing. Erdogan verbally insists on an investigation but his actions prove to be minimal.

Khashoggi’s disappearance might lead to new political developments in the already-volatile region. The journalist’s family’s complicated relationship is cause for extra attention over his disappearances. Lebanese Al-Diyar reported that Khashoggi’s brother Ahmad was killed along with his wife by masked individuals at his home in Jeddah. Khasgoggi is the nephew of Adnan Khasgoggi, the famous arms dealer. Adnan’ sister Samira is the mother of Dodi el Fayed who died with Princess Diana. Adnan’s nephew, Hasan, also survived the Reina attack in Istanbul.

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Turkmen Terzi is a journalist, researcher and political commentator focusing on International Relations and Political Science based in South Africa.

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