Welcome to Eureka Street

back to site


Fronts of distortion in the Khashoggi affair

  • 19 October 2018


On 2 October, Saudi operatives, supposedly number around 15, were waiting for Jamal Khashoggi, journalist and occasional critic of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, a theocracy that continues to surprise in its brutal exertions of power.

Khashoggi's arrival at 1.15pm in the Saudi consul's residence in Istanbul for the banal reason of securing a document for his nuptials was brief and violent. Within a matter of minutes, according to leaked recordings, a noted critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was dead, decapitated, dismembered, his fingers removed. The entire operation took two hours; the dismembering a mere seven minutes.

The shock here is not merely at the disappearance and claimed murder of a journalist, but the habitual insensitivity shown by all the relevant powers towards his disappearance. While Turkish sources, notably the Daily Yeni Safak, have been bubbling with clues, the political caution in venturing condemnation is unmistakable. Despite being a sworn enemy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Turkey persists in adopting a gingerly cautious pose.

Unofficially, the record is gruesome, featuring a murder on the premises of the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. The participants were disproportionately many for such a task: Saudi intelligence officers and members of the Royal Guards, including a forensics specialist by the name of Salah Muhammad al-Tubaigy, were supposedly charged with the task of disposing of the body.

US President Donald Trump, for his part, has made it clear that Saudi Arabia should be given a generous hearing, though he insists he is not giving the Kingdom a dispensing 'cover'. While acknowledging that there might be evidence pointing towards Saudi involvement in the demise of Khashoggi, he seems most reluctant to accept it. 'I'm not sure yet that it exists, probably does, probably does.' (He has since admitted that 'it's bad, bad stuff' and consequences will 'have to be very severe'.)

In justifying such caution, he analogously sees accusations directed at the House of Saud as akin to those of sexual assault against now confirmed Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. 'Here we go again with, you know, you're guilty until proven innocent. I don't like that. We just went through that with Justice Kavanaugh and he was innocent all the way as far as I'm concerned.'

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has also revealed an allergic tendency to discussing concrete details regarding the disappearance of Khashoggi, telling the press that he intends to avoid any