Murder in a consulate
Internationally acclaimed Saudi born journalist Jamal Khashoggi has not been seen for four days. The last time the outside world knew of his whereabouts was when he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to apply for a marriage permit. Since then, no one has seen him and nor has anyone been able to contact Khashoggi in any way. After investigating the matter, Turkish authorities have concluded that Khashoggi was murdered by Saudi authorities inside the consulate while his body was later disposed of prior to Turkish police inspecting the embassy where some suspected he was being held prisoner.
Saudi-Turkish Relations Hit Rock Bottom
Turkey’s relationship with Saudi Arabia has been poor for some time but Khashoggi’s murder risks this relationship plummeting even further. While the proximate cause of the current state of relations between Ankara and Riyadh is the Saudi led boycott of Turkey’s partner Qatar, Riyadh also stands accused of working with the US to push the FETO coup against Turkey which took place in 2016 while Riyadh has also expressed its desire to fund and even fight beside the YPG/PKK terror group in northern Syria.
Unless a third party works to calm issues behind the scenes, it is highly likely that Turkey will downgrade its already abysmal relations with the Wahhabi Kingdom.
An open provocation
While Saudi Arabia is infamous for executing dissidents domestically, the murder of Khashoggi is a clear escalation of this well known Saudi tendency. While the Saudi consulate in Istanbul is legally defined as Saudi soil in-line with the Vienna Conventions, this small piece of Saudi soil is nevertheless in Turkey. Therefore, for all intents and purposes Saudi Arabia has committed a brazen provocation by taking the life of a dissident journalist who was legally in Istanbul.
Making matters more geopolitically awkward, Khashoggi was not living in Turkey at the time of his mysterious murder, he was merely visiting. Since 2017 Khashoggi had moved from his native Saudi Arabia in order to live the United States where he worked for the Washington Post. In spite of this, Washington’s response to the crimes committed against Khashoggi has been decidedly muted compared to that of Turkey. In this sense, it is clear that the US is looking to soften the blow of extremely bad publicity that the incident has caused its close Saudi partner. The official American response is also clearly symptomatic of the current state of relations between Washington and Ankara which is at one of its lowest points in decades. Finally, it cannot be ruled out that at some level, US officials knew of Riyadh’s plans for Khashoggi. It was after all the US which pioneered using its consulates in Turkey as bases of lawless activity as multiple terrorists associated with FETO have been arrested in Turkey after having worked in US consulates.
Thus, while it is clear that Saudi Arabia staged a gruesome provocation against Turkey, it cannot be ruled out that the US bears some responsibility for the act.
Wild liberal media hypocrisy
Between 2013 and 2016 the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) continued to grow in Turkey. But unlike other terror groups like Daesh (ISIS), FETO was temporarily successful in infiltrating the Turkish military, civil service, judiciary, public schools and mass media.
After FETO staged an attempted coup against the legitimate government of Turkey in 2016, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared a state of emergency that was later lifted in 2018. During this period, multiple terrorist suspects were arrested and have since faced Turkish courts where many have been brought to justice.
And yet in the minds of many European commentators (particularly in Germany) the arrest of individuals linked to a brutal terrorist group was somehow the “arrest of innocent journalists”. This blindly pro-FETO canard has been used to accuse Turkey of being some sort of un-free country when in reality, political debates in Turkey are often more informed and more robust than in modern Europe where dialogue is often smothered between the twin evils of liberal political correctness and radical political and religious extremism.
The death of Jamal Khashoggi does indeed represent the death of a totally innocent journalist in Turkey, but his killers were not the Turkish authorities and at present it would appear that the Turkish authorities are the only people in the world who are trying to bring Khashoggi’s murderers to justice.
While more information looks set to be revealed regarding the murder of Khashoggi, this human tragedy has clear geopolitical consequences. The relationship between Ankara and Riyadh will likely move from one that is strained to one of open suspicion while the muted reaction from America says much about the current low state of affairs between two nominal NATO partners.
Finally, the fact that western so-called journalists have accused Turkey of clamping down on journalists while the only journalist killed by a government in Turkey was a Saudi dissident killed by the Saudi authorities speaks volumes about the hypocrisy of the west’s approach to the free country that is Turkey and the very different kind of place that is Saudi Arabia.