Will Trump ask Salman whereabouts of Khasogghi’s body?

Saudi Arabia’s state TV reported late on Oct 19 that Riyadh has admitted that the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed in Saudi Consulate General in Istanbul on Oct 2 where he went to get reportedly his divorce documents confirmed.

The Saudi explanation is that Khashoggi was killed in a “fist fight” with consulate officials. Riyadh also announced that Saud al-Qahtani, an adviser to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and General Ahmed al-Asiri, the deputy chief of Saudi intelligence “Ri’āsat Al-Istikhbārāt Al-‘Āmah / General Intelligence Directorate” were fired and eighteen Saudi citizens were arrested.

That denies former statements by Saudi officials that Khashoggi had left the Consulate building from the back door the same day.

Earlier to the TV statement, Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz had called Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan over the phone to “exchange information” on the Khashoggi case, according to Turkey’s state run Anadolu Agency.

U.S. President Donald Trump as the number one supporter of the theocratic Saudi regime reportedly finds what has happened to Khashoggi as “unacceptable” but also finds that explanation “credible”.  Trump had earlier casted doubt about reports that Turkish police and intelligence service “Milli İstihbarat Teşkilatı / National Intelligence Organization”, or MIT had some recordings indicating that Khashoggi might have been tortured and murdered in the Consulate building. American media reported that possible U.S. sanctions on Saudi Arabia could fell short cancelling an arms deal in 2017 of $110 billion worth; the largest amount ever and reportedly cut between Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and Trump’s Middle East envoy and son-in-law Jared Kushner.

There are unfortunately a number of examples across today’s world that values are overshadowed by political, ideological or financial interests and perhaps Trump cannot spare Saudi regime as another example to that trend. Yet there are questions waiting for answers to make Saudi explanations really credible.

  • The first one is the most basic one that every junior reporter or police officer can ask: where is the body? Will Trump ask King Salman, or ask Kushner to ask MBS about the whereabouts of Khashoggi’s body, what has happened to the body?
  • Are those “eighteen Saudi nationals” include 15 officials who arrived in Istanbul with two private jets on Oct 1 and Oct 2 and left the city late on Oct 2 for Riyadh, one of them via Dubai, as Turkish media have been reporting in details, and pictures referring to aviation and police sources?
  • Are Chief Saudi Coroner Dr. Salah al-Tubaigy and Maher Mutreb an intelligence officer close to MBS who were spotted in Istanbul as a part of the team among those who got reportedly arrested?

Khashoggi was a journalist writing for Al-Watan and Washington Post. He was criticizing Saudi war in Yemen (in which General Asiri was playing a key role), human rights condition in the country and his country’s support for Israeli government policies against Palestinians, because of the “Ikhvan-e Muslim /Muslim Brotherhood” influence among them. He had also worked in the press team of powerful Saudi figure Turki al-Faisal who is known to be an adversary of Mohammad bin Salman.

There are many other detail in this apparently political murder and also a diplomatic scandal. But the body of a murdered person is not a detail. It is a legitimate question to as whereabouts and what happened to the body of Khashoggi?

And I spare my questions about the validity of Saudi Arabia representing “moderate Islam” in the eyes of Trump and the concept of “moderate Islam” for now, for the sake of not digressing the subject.

Murat Yetkin – Oct 20, 2018

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