THE SAUDI ARABIAN journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, was killed in the Saudi Embassy in Istanbul on Tuesday 8 October. The writer had been a key figure in the Arab world’s dissident culture, and has supported progressive social causes such as the Saudi women’s liberation movement, as well as the Arab Spring. Khashoggi’s noto
riety as a journalist was recently elevated after speaking against the policies of Mohammad bin Salman (MBS), the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. Reports say that Khashoggi had entered the consulate for the purpose of obtaining documents for the marriage of fiancée, Hatice Cengiz ,who waited outside the building while he entered. He was then reported missing after not returning. For several days, nothing was heard from either Khashoggi or the consulate regarding his status. Rumours were sparked over what happened? Until, on 15 October, a joint Turkish-Saudi inspection of the embassy was deducted. Information was released that the journalist had been, according to a Saudi official, strangled to death during a confrontation with a 15-man team of Saudi operatives. Allegations emerged, however, that the men actually interrogated, tortured and finally dismembered his body; cutting off his fingers, limbs, and finally decapitating him. Turkey has said that the sounds of this horrific attack were captured on Khashoggi’s Apple Watch. Overall, 18 operatives were sent to intercept Khashoggi in the consulate and, according to most, either dispense of him or extract him back to his country of origin, although their exact intention has not been identified. It is widely believed by critics of MBS and the Saudi regime that their modus operandi was to silence the journalist for his work. Although the exact series of events are still ambiguous, the “Homelandstyle’”plot has undoubtedly heightened the geo-political tensions concerning Saudi Arabia, Turkey, US and the rest of the Arab world. State leaders, including Theresa May, have already spoken publicly. The Prime Minister stated that, “The Home Secretary is taking action against all suspects to prevent them entering the UK, and if these individuals currently have visas, those will be revoked today”. Erdogan, being purely cautionary on the matter, has been scrutinized over possible breaches of national security after an alleged wire-tapping of the Saudi Embassy and stated: “From the person who gave the order, to the person who carried it out; they must all be brought to account.” Meanwhile, the US President, sat with his arms crossed, observing that it was the “worst cover up ever”. The United States has long been an ally of the Saudi regime and President Trump has pointed his finger at the operation, condemning it as a “total fiasco”. It seems that many leaders are simply “stocking up and bunkering down” politically, waiting for events to blow over. But the r e a l concern lies in the relations between Turkey and Saudi Arabia. The House of Saud requested that Khashoggi’s sons meet with them over the incident, but some critics have said this seemingly ended up as a cynical photo opportunity. This event, like the Novichok incident back in March this year, has deeply alarmed supporters of the international rules-based order, who decry the audacious use of force by rogue states. MBS has attempted to craft an image as a great reformer. He has liberalised some restrictions on women in Saudi Arabia, allowing them to drive. He has also spearheaded a transformation of the economy away from oil dependency and curbed the influence of the religious police. Yet, his actions on the international stage have been characterised by ruthless aggression. How will the benevolent powers that be, justify and navigate this attack? In the headmaster’s office of the international order, which of the pupils will own up? The answer is yet to follow. Although, it can be said that The Crown Prince’s premiership as a “great reformer” now hangs in the balance, as these events cast a shadow over his image both domestically and internationally.