SAU Buzz

Diplomacy over decency: The curious case of Jamal Khashoggi

by Ryan Sandness
Posted on Nov 08, 2018

When Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, intent upon marrying his fiancée, nobody would have expected him to perish.

On Oct. 2, Khashoggi entered the Saudi consulate on Turkish soil to finalize his divorce from his ex-wife in order to marry his Turkish fiancée, Hatice Cengiz. Surveillance footage shows him walking into the consulate by himself at 1:14 P.M. local time, the last time he was seen alive.

Jamal Khashoggi was a well-known journalist who covered stories from the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan to covering the whereabouts of Osama Bin Laden. He was close to the Saudi royal family for decades, serving as an adviser to the government.

After falling out with the Saudi hierarchy, he settled in the US. From then on, he wrote a monthly column in The Washington Post where he criticized the policies of the Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman.

St. Ambrose University Political Science Professor Duk Kim spoke on Khashoggi’s death.

“It’s unthinkable. Just because we’re allies [with Saudi Arabia] doesn’t mean we should remain silent,” said Kim. “We should put the pressure on Saudi Arabia, saying that the situation was premeditated.”

After his disappearance, varying reports have circulated from both Saudi Arabia and Turkey about what exactly happened to Khashoggi.

Saudi Arabia has denied knowledge about what happened to Khashoggi, later saying that he left after a short time. Saudi Arabia then announced that the journalist did indeed die, with rumors aplenty about the circumstances. Khashoggi went from dying in a fist fight to dying in a chokehold when trying to resist.

Turkey, however, was upfront about how Khashoggi died. They claim he was tortured and dismembered before being disposed of. The Turkish government stated that the murder of Khashoggi was planned well in advance. This led to the arrest of eighteen Saudi nationals and two senior officials, one of whom was an aide to Prince Mohammed.

On Oct. 22, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin met with Mohammed bin Salman in the Saudi capital city of Riyadh. Reports state that they stressed “The importance of the Saudi-US strategic partnership.”

Kim mentioned how the issue became controversial.

“My initial response of the situation was of one that was not properly handled,” Kim said.

Kim thinks this cover-up by the US and Saudi Arabia won’t affect their relations, but realizes the consequences nonetheless, considering Saudi Arabia’s oil-rich lands and the Arms Deal signed with the US in 2017, saying the deal was an “excuse” to protect the Saudi government.

Rather, Kim thinks US-Turkey relations are under strain, ever since what happened with the Arab Spring in 2010, when the US was found to be providing arms to Kurdish rebel groups in Syria, groups which are known as terrorists by the Turkish government.

Looking toward the future, Kim suggests certain ways of handling these types of situations.

“We should be more careful and more responsible over foreign comments instead of being aggressive and provocative,” he explained.