As tragic as the death of Jamal Khashoggi was, the story surrounding the murder is getting more bizarre and simply stupid by the day. After preposterous delays in allowing any sort of official inspectors inside the Saudi embassy (which was repainted before they could get in) and a series of “who, me?” denials, it’s finally been established that he was killed at that facility. And how did this supposedly happen? We’re now being told that he died in a fistfight.
So let me get this straight. A 60-year-old man who rides a keyboard for a living and is – let’s be honest – rather on the pudgy side and looks like he would become winded climbing a moderately short flight of stairs, decided to stroll into the Saudi embassy and start swinging at their trained security forces? And he was such a ferocious warrior that they literally had to beat him to death to subdue him? I’d previously been reserving judgment until we could get some hard evidence and details, but this is simply absurd. Here’s one thought on the subject from social media.
Breaking: Saudi Government announces that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will be joining O.J. Simpson in a worldwide hunt for the real killers.
— Doug Mataconis (@dmataconis) October 20, 2018
Now, to top it all off, we have the Turkish government acting like they’re wearing the white hats in this debacle, claiming that they would never allow a coverup in such a heinous crime. Perish the thought! (Associated Press)
The deputy head of Turkey’s ruling party says Turkey will “never allow a cover-up” of the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul.
Numan Kurtulmus of the ruling Justice and Development Party also said Saturday that Turkey would share its evidence of Khashoggi’s killing with the world and that a “conclusive result” of the investigation is close.
His comments came hours after Saudi Arabia said Khashoggi died after a “fistfight” in its consulate, and that 18 Saudi suspects are in custody. Turkish pro-government media have given a different account, saying a hit squad was sent from Saudi Arabia to kill the columnist for The Washington Post.
Oh, please. If the Turks have some solid evidence that identifies the killers and offers at least the possibility of bringing them to justice and they are willing to share it with the world, that’s great. I might even understand temporarily keeping it from the media (to avoid tipping anyone off) as long as it was provided to the United States government as part of our own investigation. But none of this explains why these actions are taking place so long after the journalist “went missing” when Turkey was able to do so much more.
Keep in mind that Saudi Arabia is claiming that 18 people are under arrest as a result of the killing, but we have almost no details about where they are under arrest. And are they actually the ones who killed Khashoggi or some fall guys that the Saudis lined up? If they’re in Saudi Arabia we can forget about any sort of chain of evidence or clarification as to whether the right people are being prosecuted.
That brings us back to the question of why this took so long. People were aware that Khashoggi was at least “missing” almost immediately and that he was last seen heading for the Saudi Compound. As the host nation, Turkey is responsible for the safety and security of all diplomats and visiting journalists inside their borders. (Or at least they would be if we were talking about a functional democratic government, which Turkey no longer qualifies as.) Erdogan’s forces have been able to arrest (and in some cases execute) diplomats and journalists in the hundreds since the new tyrant consolidated all power under his own hand. The moment it was reported something had gone wrong, the Turkish brute squad could have been kicking in the Saudis’ doors, but nothing was done.
If you ask me, Erdogan loves causing trouble for the Saudis because he’s very cozy with Iran these days. But he also has no problem seeing some journalists who might speak ill of his agenda being taken out. Now Turkey is trying to have it both ways, defending their own inaction and claiming that they’re on the verge of breaking the case wide open. We can wait to see what they deliver, but I wouldn’t get my hopes up. Neither Turkey nor Saudi Arabia are reliable allies of the United States and this murder story is unfolding under about the worst circumstances possible.