Ja­mal Khashoggi, one of the many

Sunday Express - - WORLD -

US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has said Saudi Ara­bia could be be­hind the dis­ap­pear­ance of miss­ing jour­nal­ist Ja­mal Khashoggi and warned Wash­ing­ton would in­flict “se­vere pun­ish­ment” if he was mur­dered.

The Saudi critic has not been seen since he walked into the king­dom’s con­sulate in Is­tan­bul on Oc­to­ber 2, with Turk­ish of­fi­cials ac­cus­ing Riyadh of mur­der­ing him in­side the diplo­matic mis­sion.

With the mys­tery over Ja­mal Khashoggi un­re­solved 11 days af­ter he walked into the con­sulate and failed to reap­pear, a pro-govern­ment Turk­ish daily said the Saudi na­tional had recorded his own in­ter­ro­ga­tion in­side the mis­sion on an Ap­ple Watch.

The out­cry sur­round­ing his dis­ap­pear­ance threat­ens to not just harm brit­tle Turkey-Saudi re­la­tions but also alarm the king­dom’s sup­port­ers in the West.

Grow­ing crack­down

Saudi regime bat­tles a peren­nial sense of inse­cu­rity. Not be­ing elected to power means the au­thor­i­ties in Ri- yadh feel a con­stant need to le­git­imise their grip on power and en­sure that their cit­i­zens are loyal to them. For decades, lav­ish so­cial-wel­fare pro­grams have helped the House of Saud pur­chase the loy­alty of the ruled.

But since the 2011 Arab Spring, the Saudi au­thor­i­ties have felt more in­se­cure than ever. Fall in the global oil prices since 2015 have added to their con­cerns.

To­day, the re­formist im­age of Crown Prince Mo­hammed bin Sal­man (MBS) quite of­ten masks the grow­ing purge of po­lit­i­cal dis­si­dents hap­pen­ing in the coun­try, un­der his watch­ful eyes.

“Fam­i­lies fear to speak when a fam­ily mem­ber is ar­rested. There is an un­prece­dented con­di­tion of in­tim­i­da­tion and fear in the coun­try,” a Saudi lawyer who lives in Ger­many told The Daily Beast.

In the last one year, dozens of ac­tivists and writ­ers, crit­i­cal of Saudi poli­cies, es­pe­cially the war in Ye­men, have been ar­rested, jailed and in many cases tor­tured. The crack­down is not lim­ited to civil­ians, the regime has even gone af­ter mem­bers of the royal fam­ily sus­pected of

dis­loy­alty.

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