The Khashoggi saga

The Khashoggi saga

If I am forgiven for being too skeptical, I have to admit no stories about the Khashoggi killing sound convincing to me so far. It must be very rare or unique in world history since the Middle Ages to torture and murder a dissident in a consulate. Unfortunately, countries that seek to silence unwanted people find easier ways to get rid of their dissidents. I do not expect Saudi Arabia to be as skilled as Russia, but I cannot avoid thinking even Saudis cannot be that stupid. Nevertheless, I have no idea about what really happened like any other humble person who could not know such things.

Under the circumstances, as I had written last week, I am more interested in the political circumstances around this saga. My first impression is there must have been many people in the United States who are not happy with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and they have been very disturbed by his “dark side.” His decision to start a military operation in Yemen has also been disagreeable, followed by him recklessly taking Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri hostage and so on. It seems all those people would not know about those things before he finally ordered to kill a dissident.

At least we know more about what those people think and feel about United States President Donald Trump from the beginning, so it is not surprising to see everyone is so happy to condemn him about his close ties with the Crown Prince. Nevertheless, it is rather intriguing to learn that U.S. political and media establishments are so principled that they cannot tolerate a president who cares more about “U.S. interests” and less about “U.S. values,” as if it had never been so before Trump and especially in the case of Saudi-U.S. relations.

Finally, it seems all those who portray the victim as a freedom fighter and a lover of democracy, have no idea about Khashoggi’s “dark side”—that he worked for the Saudi government and intelligence at some point and that he was an advocate of the execution of a Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr in 2016 among many others. Even if we all know hypocrisy is almost a norm in international relations, the political and media narrative about the Khashoggi affair is quite provocative to question its genuineness.

As for the Saudis, we all know again that the Crown Prince has a lot of enemies in his country who enjoyed his fall very much, especially if we remember he imprisoned a significant portion of Saudi elite who have global financial and media network connections in the Ritz Carlton Hotel not too long ago. Finally, it seems it is the end of the story and all Americans and Saudis but the Crown Prince and his circle will live happily ever after this incident, even if they lost a dear friend. The only problem seems to be balancing their principles and U.S. financial and political interests. Since it occurred, not only Trump but even Khashoggi’s best friends have started caring about those interests. It seems even anti-Trump people are especially concerned that weakening ties with the Saudis may play into the hands of Iran.

As for Turkey, it recently started to be speculated that Turkey would be the winner at the end of the day, since the whole affair gave advantage to Turkey vis-a-vis Saudi Arabia and the U.S. in a difficult time. Alas, if nothing can bring Khashoggi back to life, let it be advantageous for Turkey (his fiance’s country after all), I am inclined to think. Nevertheless, I cannot avoid to be concerned about what happens if all turn against Turkey at some stage. After all, it is what happened in the Syrian war, as Turkey was encouraged and applauded by its Western allies for engaging in the regime change and then began being accused of being a “jihadi highway” at another stage.

Nuray Mert, Jamal Khashoggi,