First published on Ahval News on 30 October 2018.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is once again at the centre of international attention. This time it is not because of a failed coup, presidential elections or a financial crisis, but the murder of Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who disappeared at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. A passionate advocate of free speechand democracy, Khashoggi was living in exile and a vocal critic of the Saudi regime. When 82-year-old King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz appointed his favourite son, Mohammed Bin Salman as crown prince 17 months ago, Khashoggi supportedthe young prince and Saudi Vision for 2030. Nevertheless, in an op-ed published in The Washington Post in November 2017, Khashoggi questioned Prince Mohammed’s new image as a modern and enlightened leader, arguing that the crown prince was “acting like Putinand imposing very selective justice”. Khashoggi’s own tragic end has become a litmus test of precisely such selective justice.
After three weeks of silence, the crown prince spoke publicly Khashoggi’s murder for the first time on Oct. 24, calling it “a heinous crime that cannot be justified”. After so many contradictory narratives of Khashoggi’s disappearance, Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor said on the next day that Khashoggi’s murder was a “premeditated” act carried out by rogue elements. The Saudi chief prosecutor arrived in Istanbulon Oct. 29 to conduct investigations in collaboration with Turkish authorities. By that time, the mystery of Khashoggi’s murder had already turned into an international scandal marked by a series of ironies.