Regional adversaries of Saudi Arabia and anti-trump Media in the forefront of attack
Following the growing controversy over the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi from its consulate in Istanbul, Saudi Arabia joined a probe being conducted by Turkish prosecutors, and also instituted an internal inquiry.
That inquiry has now concluded that Khashoggi died during a confrontation with the Saudi interrogation team. Saudi Arabia has moved to arrest 18 suspects, while at the same time dismissing senior intelligence figure Gen. Ahmad Al Assiri and royal court adviser Saud Al Qahtani. Riyadh has also given its word that “all those complicit would be held accountable and be brought to justice”.
Since the start of the painful Khashoggi saga, it was clear that many of those who came out vehemently in support of the journalist had their own axes to grind against the kingdom. Media organisations backed by regional adversaries of Saudi Arabia, like Qatar, used the tragedy to try and destabilise this important political and economic actor. In the US, anti-Trump media outlets used the case as part of their political tussle with the US administration, given its close alliance with Riyadh.
Washington has been circumspect in its approach to the issue, realising the danger of destabilising the kingdom at a time of unprecedented upheaval in the Middle East. As America gears its policies towards countering Iranian expansionism in the region, it finds in Saudi Arabia a strong regional ally to confront Tehran. It must also be noted that the new set of stringent US sanctions against Iran will come into force in two weeks.
President Donald Trump has said he found Saudi investigations to be credible, and the actions taken so far, including the arrests, to be a “great first step”. He wants to talk further to the Saudis about the investigation.
Despite many leaks to newspapers from unnamed security officials, the Turkish presidency was cautious about rushing to judgement, a fact recognised by Riyadh in its official statement.
The killing of Khashoggi is an internal Saudi issue, as he was a Saudi citizen, and his death occurred in the Saudi consulate, which is considered Saudi soil. Riyadh should be allowed to carry the investigations process forward.