By Prarthana Mitra
Earlier this month, the sudden disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi, Washington Post columnist and vocal dissident of Saudi Crown Prince, was taken up by the media fraternity and Turkish government, even as Saudi Arabia and the US maintained plausible deniability about knowing his whereabouts.
Turkish media on Tuesday reported the existence of audio recordings from within the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, where Khashoggi was last seen, that confirms that the journalist was ambushed and later tortured to death by a 15-man Saudi security team.
What we know so far
Further investigation has proved that the entire operation was carried out by trained forensic specialists and post-mortem experts, as precise gruesome details of beheading and dismemberment have emerged from the tapes retrieved from the office of the consulate’s chief, Mohammad al-Otaibi. One of them, Salah al-Tabiqi, told the consul general to leave the room and asked the rest to listen to music while proceeding to hack Khashoggi’s lifeless body.
How to get away with murder
Despite the discovery, US president Donald Trump refuses to sever ties with Saudi Arabia, their strongest point of contact in the middle east, despite promising “punishment” on national television on Sunday.
Notwithstanding the glaring evidence to suggest that Khashoggi’s murder was premeditated and orchestrated by the Saudi government, and not without Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s intervention either, Trump has reportedly accepted $100 million from the Saudi government on Wednesday and insisted on Salman’s ignorance of the entire matter. Even when American spy agencies hold Saudi royalty responsible for Khashoggi’s death, Trump is willing to let Salman’s authorities conduct their independent probe and decided to withhold his verdict until then.
“[W]e have to find out what happened first,” Trump said in the interview conducted in the Oval Office. “[H]ere we go again with, you know, you’re guilty until proven innocent … We just went through that with Justice Kavanaugh. And he was innocent all the way.” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo did not turn up the pressure on the Saudis either.
Considering the profits that the US makes off arms sales to Riyadh, and how priceless a resource Saudi oil reserves are to American industries, it is unlikely that the US will end the alliance with Saudi Arabia. In the meantime, several businessmen, influencers and journalists over the world have boycotted conferences and projects based in the Gulf state. Time magazine opined that this “grisly crime holds the power to transform the crown prince into a pariah, and perhaps even upend the Middle East order he had made his personal project, with the help of a flattered U.S. President.”
Prarthana Mitra is a staff writer at Qrius.