First it was President Donald J. Trump who let it be known that America’s economic interests would not be jeopardized by the investigation of journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s death in Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.
Khashoggi, a harsh critic of the Saudi ruling family and a columnist for the Washington Post, vanished Oct. 2 after entering the consulate.
Although the Saudis now admit that the journalist is dead, they insist it was an accident. They have put forth a far-fetched explanation that he died in a fight with individuals inside the consulate.
Nonetheless, President Trump has made it clear that while he disagrees with the way Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and other government officials have handled the investigation, Khashoggi’s death will not derail U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia.
But Trump isn’t alone in putting his country’s interests above the unadulterated truth about the journalist’s death.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly has told senior officials in the Trump White House that Salman is a “strategic ally” in the Middle East deserving of support.
According to the Washington Post, Netanyahu described Salman, the successor to his father King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, as the linchpin of the alliance against Iranian encroachment in the region.
Here’s how an Israeli official put it: “What happened with Khashoggi’s murder is very problematic, and that’s an understatement. But we have significant interests related to Saudi Arabia. We have to ensure stability [in Saudi Arabia]. Imagine what would happen if Saudi Arabia were destabilized. It would affect the entire region.”
Reading between the lines of that statement, it’s obvious that the investigation into the journalist’s killing will stop short of the Saudi royal family.
A TOTAL WHITEWASH
In other words, there will be a whitewash, which almost seems poetic because Turkish investigators have said that the walls inside the consulate were washed after Khashoggi’s disappearance.
Unlike President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu, the president of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has pointed the finger of blame directly at the Saudi government.
Erdogan wrote in the Washington Post that the order to kill the journalist came from the “highest level” of the government in Riyadh.
He wrote that he does not believe the order came from King Salman, but the fact he did not mention Prince bin Salman in his opinion piece is of significance.
He said Turkey’s close ties to Saudi Arabia did not mean that Turkey could turn a blind eye to the killing of the journalist.
“We know that the order to kill Khashoggi came from the highest level of the Saudi government,” Erdogan said.
The president wrote: “As responsible members of the international community, we must reveal the identities of the puppet masters behind Khashoggi’s killing and discover those in whom Saudi officials – still trying to cover up the murder – have placed their trust.”
Istanbul’s chief prosecutor announced Wednesday that the journalist, who lived in exile in the United States, was strangled immediately after he entered the consulate as part of a premeditated killing and that his body was dismembered before being removed.
Another Turkish official has said that the body parts were dissolved in acid.
Khashoggi had gone to the consulate to get documents that would enable him to marry his fianc e, Hatice Cengiz.
Cengiz has appealed to the international community and to President Trump, in particular, to not only secure the release of the journalist’s remains, but to pressure Saudi Arabia into conducting an independent, transparent investigation.
We have urged Trump to support the head of the U.N. Human Rights Commission who has called for an independent investigation by international experts.
Of particular interest is the 15-member Saudi “assassination squad” Turkish officials said flew to Istanbul to kill Khashoggi.
The Turks have gathered information that they’re refusing to share with Saudi Arabia. They do not trust the Saudis, especially given that Prince bin Salman had every reason to get rid of Khashoggi, who was a harsh critic of his.
Bin Salman has tried to besmirch the journalist’s reputation by accusing him of being a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. But the victim’s family said he was not a member of the Brotherhood, as he repeatedly said over the past several years.
The Saudis have arrested 18 suspects but are refusing to hand them over to the Turkish government.
More than a month has passed since Jamal Khashoggi entered the Saudi Arabian consulate and was never seen again. A member of the Saudi royal family has been implicated and should be treated as a suspect.
It should not matter that Prince bin Salman has been chosen to succeed his father, King Salman.