An update on Khashoggi murder case

There are still a lot of unknowns about the murder of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in his country’s İstanbul Consulate on October 2 but there is enough to update the case based on the publicized information so far.
Those might change along the way as new evidence comes up, most importantly the dead body of Khashoggi but it may be helpful to give a perspective to the reader to understand perhaps one of the most brutal intrigue and possibly espionage cases in recent years.
When asked about the proceedings of the murder during his press conference on Nov 7, a day after the midterm elections the U.S. President Donald Trump said he was going to come up with a strong view about the case one Turkish and Saudi officials complete their joint work.
That answer was an example of playing with time if not playing Pollyanna.
If Trump was referring to the contacts of the Chief Saudi Prosecutor Saud al-Mujeb in Istanbul with Chief Istanbul Prosecutor İrfan Fidan on Oct 29-31, he should have known through the U.S. diplomatic mission in Turkey that it produced almost nothing. Mujeb, who earlier said that he believed the murder was a planned one, failed to answer Fidan’s questions about what was the evidence of the plan, where was the “local collaborator” he mentioned earlier to get rid of the journalist’s dead body and the most important question: where he believed the body was.
Almost a week before Saudi prosecutor’s visit CIA director Gina Haspel was in Turkey to meet with her Turkish host Hakan Fidan the head of Turkish National Intelligence organization (MİT). It was reported that Haspel briefed Trump on her return to Washington DC.
It seems Trump is keen on not pronouncing any link between the murder and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman who is nicked by Western media as MBS. Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan on the other hand said he never thought King Salman bin Abdulaziz have any links with the murder, implying the role of MBS like many commentators across the world. Mohammad bin Salman has very close links with Trump’s son in law Jared Kushner, who is also Trump’s Middle East special envoy, Mohammad bin Zayed an-Nahyan, the Crown Prince of the United Arab Emirates (UEA), Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the Egyptian president and also the Benjamin Netanyahu government in Israel. It was MBS who seized other Saudi nobles’ money through force after becoming crown prince and cut the world’s largest arms deal with Kushner between Saudi Arabia and the U.S.
Coming back to the murder, the following could be said based on the publicized information so far, with the caution that it may change as new evidence emerge.
1- It seems MBS or his close aides sent the team of 15, including the Chief Coroner Dr. Salah al-Tubaigy and MBS security adviser Maheer Mutrib on Oct 1-2 to kidnap Khashoggi, who had applied to the Consulate five days earlier for bureaucratic proceedings and given the date of appointment as Oct 2. This scenario is based on the assumption that it would not be a logical way to kill a citizen of yours in your consulate building by sending your officials to a foreign country which you don’t have the best possible ties with. Khashoggi had ties with the Moslem Brotherhood (Ikhvan) which is considered as public enemy by the governments of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and UAE but on the other hand he was one of close aides of Turki el-Faysal, the former head of Saudi Intelligence and ambassador to Washington and London, a columnist for the Washington Post and known to have links with almost all Arab opposition groups in Turkey, mostly in Istanbul. Not only Ikhvan but many Arab opposition groups, from liberal Egyptians to Islamist but non-Wahabbi Yemenis and Libyans are running associations, radio and TV stations, web sites here. By kidnapping Khashoggi and possibly trying and executing him in Saudi Arabia, MBS might have aimed to give the message to all Arab opposition groups that Istanbul was no longer a safe place for them. Usually, if there is a physician in covert operations it is to transport the kidnapped person safely to the destination as in the case of the arrest and transport of the outlawed PKK’s leader Abdullah Öcalan from Kenya to Turkey in 1999.
2- It is possible that Khashoggi resisted to kidnapping and interrogation and the Saudi team acted without sophistication and killed him on the spot. Than they did not know what to do with the body and tried to get rid of it. After realizing the problem Saudis started to come up with successive scenarios which denied each other, which was clumsily backed by Trump without bothering much about their contradiction.
3- Turkish officials seized the opportunity and made Saudis come up with all the untrue answers they could and Americans back them. At the end Saudis had to admit that it was their officials who killed Khashoggi in the Consulate building, without being able to tell where the body was amid horrible scenarios like dismembering it and burying somewhere within the Consulate building, to dissolving it using acid.
4- The case so far curbed the influence of the MBS in the Middle East but that could be only temporary; a possible death of King Salman, perhaps with outer factor could carry MBS quicker than expected to the Throne which could be helped with the delay by Trump’s indecision.
5- Ankara proved that any attempt to Arab opposition in Turkey is not without paying a price. The murder have somehow influenced the Middle eastern balances, as Syria talks have started to develop in a new direction with the inclusion of European powers like Germany and France.
Istanbul Prosecutor is busy writing his indictment with the hope that it could help us to understand the case better when it is revealed.

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