Khashoggi Drama: Everything We Know So Far

The murder of Jamal Khashoggi has escalated the tension between Saudi Arabia and Turkey and put the long-standing US-Saudi relationship on the line.

The murder of Jamal Khashoggi has escalated the tension between Saudi Arabia and Turkey and put the long-standing US-Saudi relationship on the line.

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Khashoggi Drama: Everything We Know So Far

The murder of Jamal Khashoggi has escalated the tension between Saudi Arabia and Turkey and put the long-standing US-Saudi relationship on the line.

The Turks and Saudis have been unable to reach an agreement about the events that led to Khashoggi’s death, and both are fighting for jurisdiction over the murder.

As tensions rise between these Middle Eastern countries, the spotlight is on the US. Will Trump launch an investigation? And what will become of US-Saudi relations if the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia is found to be involved? Here’s everything we know about the Khashoggi drama so far.

Who was Khashoggi?

Jamal Khashoggi was a well-known political journalist who covered stories to do with the Middle East in particular.

He wrote for different Saudi Arabian newspapers, including the Saudi Gazette, Okaz, Asharq Al-Awsat, Al Majalla. He also became an editor for magazines and newspapers like Al Watan and Arab News. Through his writing, he expressed his progressive views, advocating free speech and equal rights in Saudi Arabia.

For a time, he was also very close with the Royal Family of Saudi Arabia and even acted as an advisor for the Saudi government.

However, after he criticized Trump, the Royal Family banned him from writing for any Saudi newspaper or magazine. So in 2017 he left his home country behind and came to the United States, where he wrote columns for the Washington Post.

In his columns, he stayed true to his belief in free journalism and often criticized Saudi Arabia’s laws and international disputes. However, he expressed his fear of being arrested for dissent by the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

On October 2nd, 2018, Khashoggi went to Istanbul to visit the Saudi Consulate (to obtain divorce papers, to get remarried). After entering the Consulate, he wasn’t seen again for several days and was declared missing. Saudi Arabia later confirmed that Jamal Khashoggi died.

What do the Saudi and Turkish say about his disappearance?

Initially, Saudi Arabia insisted that Khashoggi left the Consulate after his visit. However, they later confirmed that he died inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.

They claimed that he died during a fist fight with people who met him at the Consulate. They have arrested 18 Saudi nationals on Saudi soil for the murder. There was just one problem with this claim: they never disclosed where his body is.

Turkey, on the other hand, has described the incident as a pre-planned political murder which was carried out by a team of 15 Saudis.

Turkish President Erdogan stated that the Saudi team was made up of Saudi officials and generals, who destroyed the consulate’s camera system’s hard disk just before Khashoggi was called in for his appointment.

When Khashoggi went into the consulate, his fiancé Hatiz Cengiz waited outside, and when he never came out, she contacted Turkish officials claiming that she thought he was being held, or that something bad had happened to him.

Those that believe the Turkish account of the Khashoggi are starting to point fingers at the Saudi Prince, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

However, Saudi Arabia continues to deny allegations that any Saudi officials were involved. And Turkey has refused to share the evidence they claim to have, due to the history of mistrust between the two countries.

Where does the US stand on the matter?

With Turkey and Saudi Arabia failing to reach an agreement on who has jurisdiction over this case, eyes are turning to the US for diplomatic mediation.

But with the midterm elections coming up in less than a week, Trump is reluctant to get involved with a Middle Eastern conflict.

Whilst the US and Saudi Arabia have had a long-standing relationship that stretches back nearly a century, the five different Saudi explanations of the murder, vs Turkey’s one explanation which they apparently have evidence for, means that should the US uphold US-Saudi relations, there would likely be some dire political consequences.

So as it stands, Trump isn’t in a rush to pick sides just yet, especially not before the midterms next week. This isn’t surprising considering the amount of money the US-Saudi relationship brings into the country. Saudi Arabia spends $110 billion on military equipment and other resources from the US.

However, the US has revoked the visas of 21 Saudi officials that are suspected to be linked to the murder, and though Trump has been quiet on the matter, he has accused Saudi Arabia of the worst cover up ever and has said that should the Saudis be proven to be behind it all, he will take action.

Should the US take action if it’s proved that the Saudi Prince is involved in the murder?

Turkey and Saudi Arabia have both launched investigations into the murder of Khashoggi, but with Khashoggi being an American citizen, the US will likely launch an investigation of its own.

Should the Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman prove to be involved in the murder, or even be found responsible for it, the US will need to take action. Such foul play would sever US-Saudi relations, and the US would have to retract the military support offered to Saudi Arabia in the Yemen War.

Whilst the US-Saudi relationship has been long-standing and successful for several years, the US cannot support the assassinations of American citizens. As well as an American citizen, Khashoggi was a prominent political figure, and an advocate of equal rights and freedom of speech. If this is found to be a political murder, the assassination will be seen as a political statement, attacking core American values.

However, taking action is something the US shouldn’t and won’t do lightly. The US-Saudi relationship has been a profitable one for the US, with Saudi Arabia spending over $100 billion on US military equipment. To hastily end such an arrangement will have economic consequences.

That being said, even though there’s as of yet no evidence to suppose that the Crown Prince had anything to do with the murder, the US should no doubt prepare to take action, and at least warn Saudi officials that any signs of foul play will have consequences.

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