We have witnessed many assassinations and abductions targeting journalists in wars, conflict areas or during corruption or mafia-related cases. But the latest case of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi is unprecedented.
Briefly, Washington Post columnist Khashoggi entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul last week to get documents for his forthcoming marriage but hasn't left the building since then. This is an incident that cannot be described solely as a scandal. Such an instance has not been seen in the history of politics and diplomacy. The only shady point is not the consulate. It has been revealed that a 15-person team arrived in Istanbul on the day of the incident with two private jets that departed from Saudi Arabia and returned the same day. This information hints at the presence of a large-scale operation. Time will show the motivations behind this operation on global and regional levels, but there are a couple of questions that need to be answered immediately for now.
The most important question is undoubtedly what happened to Khashoggi. There are many allegations suggesting that he was killed inside the Consulate or abducted. Turkey's National Intelligence Organization (MİT) and security forces are currently conducting a very thorough investigation by considering every single detail. But it must be stressed that before entering the Consulate, Khashoggi expressed his concerns to his fiancee as if he sensed what would happen to him: "If I don't go out, inform the Turkish-Arab Countries Association officials and the AK Party[Justice and Development Party]Vice Chairman Yasin Aktay." His remarks hint that Khashoggi was already suspecting that the opposite side was planning some moves against him.
There are many aspects corroborating this since the consul did not provide information about his departure, the cameras inside were not operating, and the 15-person group arrived in Istanbul and returned the same day.
All these aspects denote that a large-scale operation was devised. Although there are not many examples in this case, those familiar with similar operations say: "These hints show that the original plan was to abduct Khashoggi. But the plan probably failed because of the fiancee waiting at the entrance gate. And when it failed, his execution, as security forces indicated, took place."
In fact, there is another major question here. During the hours when Khashoggi was at the Consulate, a black minibus and an automobile arrived at the residence of the Saudi Consul, which is very close to the consulate. It is even alleged that the minibus entered the closed garage. No one seems to know what happened there, and this aspect has been glossed over so far. So, it is doubtful whether what happened to Khashoggi happened in the residence and whether he is still there. Another crucial question is, of course, whether this incident is a part of a bigger scheme devised for the region.
The Khashoggi incident is among the top agenda topics of the international scene as well.
The U.S., the U.N., the Arab world, the EU and many organizations and leaders across the world reacted, but none of them was on a scandalous level that subverted diplomatic practices.
In particular, U.S. President Donald Trump's remark on the issue was very tepid. He only said: "I am concerned about it. I don't like hearing about it. Hopefully that will sort itself out. Right now nobody knows anything about it. But there's some pretty bad stories going around. I do not like it."
But the same Trump came to the point of breaking ties with the U.S.' "strategic ally" Turkey for pastor Andrew Brunson who was put under house arrest in Turkey.
It is not yet known what exactly lies behind the case, but it is certainly a curious incident. The one who articulated this in the most explicit way is American political scientist Francis Fukuyama by addressing Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, who is a close friend of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman: "Jared Kushner should ask his friend Mohamed bin Salman what happened to Jamal Khashoggi."
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