Turkey puts the heat on Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi murder

Turkey puts the heat on Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi murder

It has been more than 40 days since Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered in the premises of the Saudi Consulate General by a group of Saudi high-ranking military and intelligence officials. 

Saudi officials initially denied the killing, then admitted to it and later sent delegations, as well as their chief prosecutor, to cooperate with relevant Turkish officials. It was later found out that a technical team who was deployed to Istanbul to investigate the murder with the Turkish officials was in fact there to cover up the remaining traces of the inhuman crime at the consulate general and the residence of the consul general. In addition, the Saudi chief prosecutor had no intention to share information with his counterparts. He was sent to Istanbul to see what evidence Turkey has.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan spoke with King Salman twice in this period and stressed in an opinion piece in the Washington Post: “I do not believe for a second that King Salman, the custodian of the holy mosques, ordered the hit on Khashoggi.” He, however, also said “We know the order to kill Khashoggi came from the highest levels of the Saudi government,” almost pointing at Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

In the meantime, Turkey has continued its efforts to keep the international attention on the Khashoggi case. The Turkish government has made it clear that Saudi’s efforts to let this murder fade away in due course will not be allowed and it will continue to carry out its strategy to keep this issue alive.

That was perhaps why Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu told reporters last week that there are evidence that have not been shared with the international community. He also made clear, like Erdoğan did, that Turkey will continue to ask questions about the whereabouts of Khashoggi’s body, a local collaborator who is allegedly an accomplice and, more importantly, who gave the instructions.

Plus, Erdoğan announced over the weekend that Turkey gave the recordings of the killing of the Saudi journalist to Saudi Arabia, the United States, Germany, France and Britain. “We gave the tapes. We gave them to Saudi Arabia, to the United States, Germans, French and British, all of them. They have listened to all the conversations in them. They know,” Erdoğan said.

He unveiled this fact before his scheduled meetings with world leaders in Paris, including U.S. President Donald Trump, French President Emmanuel Macron, Russia President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel and U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. He also had a private meeting with Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani on Nov. 9 in Ankara.

All these moves are in line with Turkey’s strategy to impose a concerted pressure with the involvement of the global powers from the very beginning of the incident. Erdoğan conveyed the message to King Salman that Turkey is not in favor of a bilateral crisis with Saudi Arabia but it will not stop until all perpetrators are brought to justice and pay for what they did.

It’s not certain whether evidence Turkey has are enough to blame the crown prince for Khashoggi’s murder and whether Turkey’s political objective is to see the young prince’s departure from power. What is certain is that Turkey is in efforts to increase pressure on Riyadh and to direct the international community to this end.

In the meantime, Erdoğan revealed the fact that special representatives from the two countries have in fact exchanged visits to each other’s capitals in the past weeks but without explaining the real motive behind this diplomatic shuttle.

Only time will tell how all these efforts and communication between the two countries will end up.