The US position in the Khashoggi conundrum

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It appears that finding the real culprits behind the alleged murder of the Saudi Washington Post journalist – one of the most complicated stories in recent times – will take far longer than expected

The whole world is currently talking about the curious case of Saudi journalist and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, who disappeared after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last week.

The incident is reminiscent of Agatha Christie's detective novels. Khashoggi was last seen a week ago while entering the consulate, as shown by a photo taken by the streets cameras of the Turkish police. Although Saudi authorities claim that he left the building soon after he entered, they cannot release any footage proving this. For some reason, the security cameras in a highly protected diplomatic mission were not recording during those moments.

But there is more solid evidence than the photo. His fiancee, whom Khashoggi handed his mobile phone to at the entrance of the consulate and told her to call the Turkish authorities if he did not come back in a few hours, bore witness to his disappearance. She said that she saw Khashoggi enter the building but never saw him leaving.

The various details regarding the case of Khashoggi covered by the media so far are only a series of educated guesses. The only certainty about the case is that whatever happened to him (whether he was killed or abducted) happened at the consulate.

Another critical question is the motivation behind such actions. The answers we can give in light of available information cannot go beyond reasonable scenarios.

Here are some alternatives. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman may have attempted to intimidate dissidents inside the country by making such a bold mistake. Or the crown prince's opponents inside the country aspired to hamper his rising image in the West, or a third country like Iran, might have organized a conspiracy against him by acting smarter.

The only certain thing we can say about our colleague's disappearance for now is that the U.S. will have a tough time in their policies toward Saudi Arabia since the economic and political legitimacy of U.S. President Donald Trump's relation with this Kingdom, which goes so far as to lose a journalist before the eyes of the world, will be questioned more strictly from now on.

Any stance adopted by the U.S. against its strongest regional ally in the context of Iran policies will favor Russia's image unless, of course, the deep cross-border operatives of the U.S. who are against Trump have a part in this enigmatic case.

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