No mur­der mys­tery: Saudi royal court or­dered jour­nal­ist as­sas­si­nated

Tehran Times - - ANALYSIS & INTERVIEW -

TEHRAN (FNA) — Turk­ish me­dia have quoted of­fi­cials as say­ing that Saudi Ara­bia is be­hind the as­sas­si­na­tion of Saudi jour­nal­ist Ja­mal Khashoggi in the Saudi con­sulate in Is­tan­bul, and that the or­der to mur­der him came from the “high­est” lev­els of the Saudi royal court.

On top of this, Turk­ish of­fi­cials have named 15 Saudi men that they have iden­ti­fied as “op­er­a­tives” in­volved in the as­sas­si­na­tion of Khashoggi. The mur­der­ous group in­cluded a Saudi Spe­cial Forces mem­ber, two royal guards, and a chief in the in­ter­nal se­cu­rity agency.

Of course, Saudi of­fi­cials still deny that any­thing at all hap­pened to Khashoggi, claim­ing he en­tered the con­sulate on Oc­to­ber 2 and left un­harmed. Turk­ish of­fi­cials, how­ever, don’t think so. Ac­cord­ing to CCTV cam­eras, phone call records by the CIA (they refuse to ac­knowl­edge or come for­ward), and con­fi­den­tial in­tel­li­gence, he was killed. His body has not been found, but there has been no sign of him since this visit, and this is in no way a mur­der mys­tery:

1- Turk­ish of­fi­cials have con­cluded that the or­der to as­sas­si­nate Khashoggi came from the high­est lev­els of the Saudi govern­ment. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has con­firmed that he has talked to of­fi­cials at the high­est lev­els of the Saudi govern­ment as well about the mat­ter.

2- Khshoggi was last seen at 1:14 p.m. lo­cal time last Tues­day as he en­tered the Saudi con­sulate. Turk­ish of­fi­cials, talk­ing to Western me­dia, have de­scribed the op­er­a­tion as “quick and com­plex,” and that Khashoggi was killed within two hours of his ar­rival at the Saudi con­sulate. The agents “dis­mem­bered his body with a bone saw they brought for the pur­pose. It’s like ‘Pulp Fic­tion,’” they told the me­dia.

3- Turk­ish of­fi­cials have re­peat­edly said that Khashoggi has been killed. A friend of the jour­nal­ist, Tu­ran Kis­lakci, who is also the head of the Turk­ish-Arab Me­dia As­so­ci­a­tion, told the Western me­dia that Turk­ish of­fi­cials called him and “of­fered their con­do­lences and told us to be ready for a fu­neral”.

4- That Turkey was so eas­ily able to iden­tify this group, and that they ar­rived in such a con­spic­u­ous man­ner sug­gests that the Saudis did lit­tle to cover their ac­tions, and may even have fig­ured be­ing im­pli­cated would in­tim­i­date other dis­si­dents. Closed-cir­cuit tele­vi­sion footage, flight track­ers, in­ter­cepted com­mu­ni­ca­tions and even ru­mors of a bone saw can eas­ily help serve pieces of this puz­zle.

5- The Wash­ing­ton Post - for which Khashoggi wrote crit­i­cal col­umns – says US in­tel­li­gence in­ter­cepted com­mu­ni­ca­tions of Saudi of­fi­cials dis­cussing a plan to cap­ture the jour­nal­ist. The Post says the Saudis wanted to lure Khashoggi back to Saudi Ara­bia and lay hands on him there.

6- Trump claims he wants the US to get to the bot­tom of the in­ci­dent. He told re­porters that the US is “de­mand­ing ev­ery­thing” and con­sid­ers the mat­ter a very se­ri­ous sit­u­a­tion, adding the US is work­ing closely with Turkey. Trump is clearly dou­bling down on his push for an­swers on the mat­ter. He’s not the only one, with Con­gres­sional lead­ers that usu­ally side with Saudi Ara­bia on all things even start­ing to ask ques­tions. In that case, the next best move by Wash­ing­ton is to ask the CIA to re­lease their records on phone calls be­fore the mur­der hap­pened. Yes, they al­ways keep phone call records of every­one up un­til five years.

7- US Sen. Lind­sey Gra­ham (R-SC) spoke to re­porters Wed­nes­day, Oc­to­ber 10, re­port­ing that it would be a “game changer” if the Saudis had in any way mis­treated Khashoggi. Since early in­di­ca­tions are that the Saudis had him killed and chopped him into bits, that’s go­ing to be tough for Gra­ham to back away from if this turns out to be the case, which, in­deed, is the case. Be­cause Sen. Gra­ham and Sen. James In­hofe (R-OK) both have warned there would be “hell to pay” if the Saudis were be­hind the jour­nal­ist’s dis­ap­pear­ance. It seems that’s an even safer bet, and while Gra­ham didn’t want to elab­o­rate on what that meant, he did say he thinks the Saudis “know what it means”.

All things con­sid­ered, and as main­tained by Turk­ish of­fi­cials, “The Saudis are not co­op­er­at­ing fully with the in­ves­ti­ga­tion. They are not open to co­op­er­at­ing.” In ad­di­tion, Saudi au­thor­i­ties have asked Turk­ish au­thor­i­ties to post­pone the search of their con­sulate in Is­tan­bul. Con­cerns over Khashoggi’s dis­ap­pear­ance have noth­ing to do with in­ter­na­tional pol­i­tics or the geopol­i­tics of the Mid­dle East. For that rea­son and no other, this par­tic­u­lar mur­der case should prompt calls for in­ves­ti­ga­tions from around the world, par­tic­u­larly from the United Na­tions.

To that end, the Wah­habi regime’s staunch­est Western al­lies, in­clud­ing the United States, where Khashoggi had ap­plied for per­ma­nent res­i­dency, are equally ex­pected to urge Saudi Ara­bia to come clean and re­frain from dou­ble stan­dards. By sim­ply be­ing in touch with the “high­est lev­els” of the Saudi govern­ment about Khashoggi’s case and/or ex­press­ing con­cerns about his mur­der, as Pres­i­dent Trump would like to sug­gest, the Saudi regime won’t be pressed enough to re­veal more about the mur­der, much less be held to ac­count in the court of jus­tice.

The Saudi regime might have been able to si­lence Khashoggi, but it has mis­cal­cu­lated the global im­pact his mur­der would have. Un­der these cir­cum­stances and in­ter­na­tional law, the au­to­cratic regime should never be al­lowed to es­cape in­ter­na­tional jus­tice or else we should wait for more such crimes. It is now the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity’s turn to show its choice.

The Saudi regime might have been able to si­lence Khashoggi, but it has mis­cal­cu­lated the global im­pact his mur­der would have.

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