Prior to this year, Sergey Skripal was hardly a household name but those who did know him, knew him to be a traitor. The Russian President affirmed this during a recent statement where he called the former double-agent who received money from Britain to spy on his Russian homeland “a traitor and scum”.
More recently Skripal made headlines for mysteriously falling ill alongside his daughter who had visited him in England during March of this year. While the public has been presented with plenty of contradictory versions of what might have happened to Sergey Skripal and his daughter, throughout the entire process, Britain and later the United States blamed his illness on Russia, even though the world has yet to see any compelling evidence indicating that Russia attempted to kill him while Moscow has no clear motive for doing so.
Jamal Khashoggi was a well known journalist in the Arab world, Turkey, Europe and North America. The Saudi born journalist fled his homeland in 2017 after the government run by Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman tried to censor Khashoggi. While Khashoggi had been living in the United States and writing for the Washington Post, more recently Khashoggi was in Istanbul where he planned to marry his Turkish fiancee. On the 2nd of October, he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to apply for paperwork in order to marry. He was never seen again. Turkish police have opened a murder in investigation and it is being widely reported that the Turkish authorities are certain that Khashoggi was murdered inside the consulate by the Saudi authorities.
Turkish officials tell @trtworld they're almost 100% certain that #JamalKhashoggi #CemalKaşıkçı has been killed. 15 Saudi officials who arrived on the same day on two planes are under investigation. But they think it will be hard to prove the case. #Saudi #SaudiArabia
— Andrew Hopkins (@achopkins1) October 9, 2018
Turkey’s seriousness vs. Anglo-American hysteria
While the UK and US governments accused the Russian government of attempting to kill Sergey Skripal and his daughter, Turkey has taken a far more mature stance regarding the presumed death of Jamal Khashoggi. Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has stated that he is monitoring the Khashoggi investigation with great intensity and that the onus is on Riyadh to prove that Khashoggi left the embassy as Saudi officials claim.
Turkey has already twice summoned Saudi Arabia’s ambassador over the matter and while Erdogan has yet to formally accuse Saudi Arabia of state murder, there remains a likelihood that in the event of a formal accusation, long strained relations between Ankara and Riyadh may be downgraded.
Turkey has made it clear that the issues at stake are both journalist freedom and national sovereignty. While legally, the Saudi consulate in Istanbul is Saudi territory, such a provocation within the confines of the Republic of Turkey is clearly a Saudi attempt to both insult and threaten the people of Turkey. And yet in spite of the seriousness of a crime that local police have already called a murder and one which the Saudi regime has a clear motive to commit, Erdogan has remained professional so as to not prematurely escalate a fragile situation with multiple geopolitical repercussions.
By contrast, the UK and US governments stated that Russia was to blame for Sergey Skripal falling ill while failing to provide the world evidence as Turkey has promised to do in the matter of Khashoggi. The UK and US then set out to economically sanction Russia based on a story that could well be a fabrication.
The contrast between the two approaches is akin to the difference between night and day. Turkey is handling a potentially seismic situation with seriousness and calmness in spite of clear social pressures to name and shame Saudi Arabia for committing a dastardly act. This is the case in spite of many serious disagreements with Saudi Arabia including allegations that Riyadh helped the US to finance the 2016 FETO coup against Turkey’s legitimate democratically elected government, while Riyadh has recently vowed to finance the YPG/PKK terror group.
By contrast, Russia and the US/UK had few meaningful relations (neither positive nor negative) prior to the recent wave of Russophobic hysteria in North America and Europe. And yet without taking a calm, dignified nor measured approach, America, Britain, France and Germany needlessly degraded western relations with Russia while not accomplishing anything positive in the process.
Making the contrast all the more pronounced, it took the United States a week before Secretary of State Mike Pompeo even mentioned Khashoggi. One could be certain that if a Russian dissident journalist disappeared after entering a Russian consulate or embassy, the response would be very different.
While it appears increasingly self-evident that Saudi Arabian officials murdered Khashoggi, because the US is going through a strained period of relations with Turkey while western relations with Riyadh remain healthy, any rebuke of Saudi Arabia from North America or Europe is being deeply restrained to put it mildly.
These are of course the same western voices which falsely claim that Turkey is not a safe place for journalists to work. Yet it is President Erdogan who stands alone in the world in agitating on behalf of Jamal Khashoggi and other journalists in his position. The fact of the matter is that not only is Turkey a free society but due to a perverse combination of liberal “politically correct” censorship and the parallel rise of political and religious extremism in Europe, Turkey is now a freer place to speak one’s mind than much of Europe. This is certainly the case when Turkey is compared with Germany.
While anyone with a conscience ought to defend Jamal Khashoggi’s rights to speak and live freely, irrespective of their political stance, instead, Khashoggi’s almost certain murder is being condemned only by Turkish voices. This entire tragic affair reveals a lot about Turkey and an equal amount about the nations that spread malicious hatred against Turks and the Republic of Turkey.