Saudi Arabia has been engulfed by accusations over journalist Jamal Khashoggi's murder at its Istanbul consulate as international actors, unsatisfied by Riyadh's explanations, are increasing pressure, signaling for more isolation.
While new calls were voiced by international actors to apply sanctions on the Saudi government, a lack of interest in a major event in Riyadh revealed the extent of exclusion for the kingdom.
Saudi Arabia's first major event on the world stage since the killing of Khashoggi, the Future Investment Initiative, began on Tuesday in Riyadh. However, contrary to last year's forum which proved to be a glitzy affair that drew international business attention to the kingdom, this year's event has seen many top business leaders and officials drop out over Khashoggi's slaying.
The brainchild of the forum, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), was also not immediately seen at the forum when it started.
"As we gather here in Riyadh this morning, it is natural that our thoughts tend to focus on the recent events surrounding the death of Jamal Khashoggi - a writer, a journalist and a Saudi journalist known to many of us," said Lubna Olayan, a Saudi businesswoman moderating the forum's first panel. "May he rest in peace." She added that such "terrible acts reported in recent weeks are alien to our culture and DNA."
Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih admitted in statements on the sidelines of the conference that "Saudi Arabia is going through a crisis." Falih added the murder of Khashoggi was regrettable, and "nobody in the kingdom can justify it."
Khashoggi went missing on Oct. 2 after he entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. After days of denying any knowledge of his whereabouts, Saudi Arabia on Saturday claimed Khashoggi died during a fight inside the consulate. The kingdom's announcement that Khashoggi died in a "fistfight" was met with international skepticism and allegations of a cover-up to absolve the 33-year-old crown prince of direct responsibility.
REPORTS REVEAL SAUDI OFFICIAL RAN KHASHOGGI MURDER ON SKYPE
According to media reports, a top assistant to the crown prince ran Khashoggi's murder by giving orders over Skype.
Reuters reported on Monday that, Saud al-Qahtani, a top aide for MBS was on Skype, giving orders to a group of people inside a room in the Saudi consulate where they held Khashoggi. The report claimed that Qahtani began to hurl insults at Khashoggi over the phone and Khashoggi answered Qahtani's insults with his own.
Citing an intelligence source, Reuters said Qahtani ordered the killing of Khashoggi saying: "Bring me the head of the dog."
A Saudi official on Saturday claimed that MBS had no knowledge of the operation that led to Khashoggi's murder. Qahtani had tweeted last summer, "Do you think I make decisions without guidance? I am an employee and a faithful executor of the orders of my lord the king and my lord the faithful crown prince."
Saliha Allam, an Egyptian journalist who spoke to the Anadolu Agency (AA), stated that the Saudi administration committed a "horrendous crime," adding that MBS has been sacrificing people around him to distance himself from the case. "After this time, the people of Saudi Arabia, the opposition, and even the Saudi regime's supporters cannot predict what elites in government can do," Allam said.
Regarding the internal investigation, the Saudi cabinet said after a meeting chaired by King Salman yesterday that Saudi Arabia will hold to account those responsible of Khashoggi's killing and those who failed in their duties, whoever they are. King Salman also received family members of Khashoggi in Riyadh, his sons Salah and brother Sahel, at the royal palace, state news agency SPA reported yesterday. The meeting was also attended by MBS, the report said.
FOOTAGE SHOWS SAUDIS BURNING DOCUMENTS
Also, footage obtained by Turkish broadcaster A Haber late Monday showed Saudi consular personnel burning documents a day after Jamal Khashoggi's disappearance. The footage, supposedly recorded via the high-rise buildings surrounding the consulate's compound, shows two men burning papers in a trash container.
Meanwhile, CIA Director Gina Haspel traveled to Turkey on Monday to work on the investigation into the death of Khashoggi.
U.S. President Donald Trump said earlier on Monday that he has "top intelligence people in Turkey," but did not provide any details.
TURKEY WILL COOPERATE WITH ANY INTERNATIONAL INVESTIGATION
Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said yesterday Turkey will cooperate with any independent investigation by the United Nations or international courts and institutions on Khashoggi's killing. Speaking at Anadolu Agency's Editor's Desk, Çavuşoğlu said Turkey has not shared evidence on Khashoggi case with any country, but there may be meetings between intelligence services.
Media reports had claimed that Ankara passed on a recording of the killing of the dissident Saudi journalist to the United States. Çavuşoğlu said Saudi Arabia's admission of Khashoggi's killing was important, although late, and international pressure made the kingdom confess to the journalist's murder.
MORE COUNTRIES HINT AT SANCTIONS ON SAUDIS
Several other countries joined the queue of calls to impose sanctions on the Saudi government until Khashoggi's case was fully brought to light. Belgian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said yesterday that Brussels should take Berlin as an example and stop the selling of weapons to Saudi Arabia.
"The arms export decision was taken by the regional parliaments, therefore, they don't have authority other than to advise. We shouldn't hide behind the EU. We should take Germany as an example and stop arms sales to Saudi Arabia," De Croo said. German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday called the killing of Khashoggi a "monstrosity" and vowed to halt German arms exports to Saudi Arabia until the case is cleared up. "It must be cleared up. As long as it's not cleared up, there will be no arms exports to Saudi Arabia. I assure you of that very decidedly," she said.
Also, German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier told ZDF television that a joint EU position is needed "because only if all European countries agree, will this make an impression on the government in Riyadh." He said "it will have no positive consequences if we, as we are doing, currently don't pursue our arms exports, if at the same time other countries fill this gap."
Commenting on the EU's position in the incident, a high-level EU official told Daily Sabah that the statements coming from Saudi Arabia do not sound convincing at all. The official added that EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini had called for a full investigation making a reference to an article in the Vienna convention, stressing that Ankara has been carefully managing the process in a credible way. Another country hinting at sanctions was Canada. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Monday that the country is prepared to freeze a big arms deal with Saudi Arabia if it concludes the weapons have been misused.
Trudeau's comments signaled Ottawa might halt a 2014 contract that the Canadian unit of U.S. weapons maker General Dynamics Corp won to supply light-armored vehicles. The deal is said to be worth up to $13 billion.
The opposition left-leaning New Democrats, who will be competing for the same voters as Trudeau in the 2019 elections, say Canada should not be arming the Saudis when they are attacking civilian targets in Yemen. Saudi military intervention in neighboring Yemen, which began in 2015 and masterminded by MBS, has claimed the lives of thousands of people and turned into a humanitarian crisis. British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt also said that the Saudi government's explanation for Khashoggi's murder as not credible, stating that "those responsible should be called into account."
Please click to read our informative text prepared pursuant to the Law on the Protection of Personal Data No. 6698 and to get information about the cookies used on our website in accordance with the relevant legislation.
6698 sayılı Kişisel Verilerin Korunması Kanunu uyarınca hazırlanmış aydınlatma metnimizi okumak ve sitemizde ilgili mevzuata uygun olarak kullanılan çerezlerle ilgili bilgi almak için lütfen tıklayınız.