A Death & The World Equation
Jamal Khashoggi was reluctant to call himself an ‘opposition‘. He only wanted Saudi Arabia to implement the reform programmes in a proper manner and to get rid of the ‘dictatorial rule’.
Before his disappearance from the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on October 2, the senior journalist, author, former General Manager and Editor-in-Chief of ‘Al-Arab’ news channel and the former Editor of the Saudi daily ‘Al Watan’ expressed the view while commenting on the Saudi Royal family and its role during an interview. He stressed: “I’m not calling for the overthrow of the regime, because I know it’s not possible and is too risky, and there is no one to overthrow the regime. I’m just calling for reform of the regime.” An American weekly published the interview on October 20 soon after Riyadh admitted that the Saudi journalist was murdered inside the consulate.
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said that the killing of Khashoggi was a “tremendous mistake” and part of a rogue operation. The minister told the press: “The individuals, who did this, did this outside the scope of their authority. There obviously was a tremendous mistake made, and what compounded the mistake was the attempt to try to cover up. That is unacceptable in any government.”
Khashoggi had taken asylum in the US after being targeted by the Royal family. Although he was associated with an American daily, he didn’t forget his motherland. When asked about Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s modernisation drive, the veteran journalist said: “He is just like an old-fashioned tribal leader. Sometimes I feel that… he wants to enjoy the fruits of first-world modernity and Silicon Valley and cinemas and everything, but at the same time, he wants also to rule like how his grandfather ruled Saudi Arabia.” “He still doesn’t see the people. When he sees the people, that’s when the actual reform will start,” added Khashoggi.
Meanwhile, the Khashoggi murder case has taken a new turn, with a senior Saudi official saying that the journalist was strangled to death inside the consulate. However, the official made no comments on whether the Saudi Royal family wanted to get Khashoggi killed.
Earlier, Turkey announced that they would soon publish their investigation report and to reveal the actual facts. Ankara claimed that the perpetrators had cut the journalist’s body into pieces after the murder and left the body parts in a nearby jungle.
The Saudi official, on condition of anonymity, stressed that about 15 people – including some Army personnel – were present at the consulate on that day. According to the official, they were sent to the consulate to assassinate Khashoggi. Upon their arrival in the consulate, they planned to abduct the journalist. They also allegedly planned to use force, had the journo tried to prevent them. Finally, they strangled him to death. Later, a person, wearing Khashoggi’s clothes, came out of the consulate and got into a car parked outside the building in order to hide the incident (or to confuse the investigators)!
Turkish President Erdoğan
The Saudi official’s statement has triggered a fresh debate on the murder of Khashoggi. It is still not clear who killed the journalist and how… Some believe that he had to sacrifice his life for criticising the Royal family, while others are of the opinion that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan forced Riyadh to reveal the actual facts by putting Saudi Arabia under tremendous diplomatic pressure.
According to diplomatic sources, the Saudi crown prince will be in trouble, if the investigation goes in the right direction. Preliminary investigation suggests that Saudi Deputy Intelligence Chief Ahmed al-Assiri and Royal Court Adviser Saud al-Qahtani are reportedly involved in Khashoggi’s murder. Although Saudi King Salman has issued a royal order, relieving both the officials of their posts, they are popularly known as close aides of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud.
Saudi Crown Prince bin Salman
Foreign policy experts are of the opinion that the murder of Khashoggi has dented the global image of the Saudi crown prince and the Royal family. For the last couple of years, the crown prince has been trying hard to project the West Asian nation as a ‘liberal’ country, as he has undertaken a number of reform programmes mainly to attract foreign investments.
The murder has prompted the European nations to distance themselves from Riyadh. It will be interesting to see whether President Donald Trump manages to rescue Riyadh and its crown prince from the troublesome situation. Rivals Israel and Iran are closely monitoring the political situation in neighbouring Saudi Arabia!
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