Saturday, March 23, 2019 | ePaper

Journalist Khashoggi's murder taints image of Saudi Kingdom

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TURKEY'S President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the order to murder journalist Jamal Khashoggi came from "the highest levels" of the Saudi government. Earlier Erdogan promised no let-up in the hunt for Khashoggi's killers. A month of Khashoggi's murder in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Erdogan on Friday said he did "not believe for a second" that King Salman was to blame.
But he pointedly failed to absolve Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of the responsibility for unleashing a "death squad" against the outspoken Saudi journalist whose death has badly tainted the Kingdom's de facto ruler. And in an editorial for Khashoggi's former employer, The Washington Post, Erdogan accused authorities in Riyadh of refusing to answer key questions about the murder, despite their arrest of 18 suspects.
Erdogan's comments came shortly after one of his top lieutenants charged that Khashoggi's dismembered body was "dissolved" in acid inside the consulate. The murder of the royal insider-turned-dissident has provoked widespread outrage and sharp criticism from Washington, usually the staunchest of allies.
While US President Donald Trump has ruled out halting arms deal with Riyadh as a punishment, his administration has effectively withdrawn support for the Saudi-led coalition's war in Yemen in a stark illustration of the cooling of ties. Addressing mourners at a memorial service in Washington on Friday, the murdered journalist's fiancée called on Trump to back Turkey's efforts to investigate the murder.
To many seasoned observers of the Saudi Royal family it is quite incredulous that an 18-man official team, many of which have direct ties to the Crown Prince, came all the way from Riyadh without direct orders from the very top -- either the Saudi King or its Crown Prince. Since we know that the King is blameless, all fingers point to the Prince.
Therefore it stands to reason that he must conduct a fair investigation of those who were involved or take blame personally. At this time no one knows anything about how the Saudis are conducting an investigation. Whatever happens it will be quite difficult for MBS to remain in power without providing credible answers to the questions. The question is, will he fall, or will he be pushed?   

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