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Kashoggi’s killing; The price for truth-telling


Kashoggi’s killing; The price for truth-telling

Columnist Jamal Kashoggi murdered

Columnist Jamal Kashoggi murdered

No disappearance and killing of a journalist in recent memory has drawn as much international attention like that of The Washington Post Columnist, the Saudi born, Jamal Khashoggi.

Two weeks ago, he entered the Saudi Arabian consulate in Instanbul, Turkey, to get a marriage license for him and his fiancée, the Turk, Hatice Cengiz; and the rest, as they say, is now history.

That present history is shaking the relationship between the Saudi Kingdom, the US and Turkey. And it may impact the world economy through the rise in the oil-barrel price, prominently controlled by Saudi Arabia.

It is a reflection on the price journalists pay, the world over, for trying to bring the truth to the rest of the populace. This is especially pertinent in Africa.

Khashoggi’s “problem” is essentially that he had close attachments and relationships with the three countries. He was a relative of the incomparable Saudi billionaire, Adnan Khashoggi, who in the 1980s, sold his yacht to Donald Trump, presently the President of the United States. Adnan Khashoggi’s father was a Turkish doctor who married a Saudi woman and was a physician to King Abdul Aziz, modern Saudi Arabia’s founder.

Jamal Khashoggi, himself, had close ties with the Saudi royal family. He was a political and media adviser to Prince Turki Al-Faisal, a former Saudi intelligence chief, who became the Saudi ambassador in both London and New York.

The present Saudi envoy in New York, Prince Khalid bin Salman, and the brother to Saudi Arabia’s de-facto ruler, Mohammed bin Salman, recently referred to Khashoggi as a “friend”.

Before his relocation to the US from Riyadh, Khashoggi had many stints with influential newspapers in Saudi Arabia, the most recent, had been with the Al Hayat. His journalist career started with a degree at Indiana University in the US.

He worked for the London-based and Saudi paper, Asharq Al-Awsat daily; and also edited a number of papers including the Al Arab News and Al Watan newspapers.

Jamal Khashoggi is best known for his reports of the news of Afghanistan, Algeria, Kuwait and the Middle East in the 1990s. It is while covering this region that he met and interviewed Osama bin Laden several times. It is in his incisive reporting, editorial and columns, that he attracted blame by the members of the Saudi royal family for his “pushing the boundaries of debate within Saudi society beyond acceptable limits”.

Consequently, he came directly into the cross-hairs of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, generally referred to MBS.

MBS is the undoubted dictatorr of Saudi Arabia, whose father King Salman, has virtually abdicated that role to him.  He is the in-charge of the economy, foreign affairs, intelligence and defense portfolios in the kingdom.

As such, Khashoggi’s killing can be  attributed directly to him. When Khashoggi entered the Saudi consulate a fortnight ago in Instanbul, he came under the direct security of Consul Mohammed al Otaibi. Subsequently, 15 Saudi “goons”, sent from Riyadh, entered the consulate; and were seen leaving it in two vehicles. In the process, Khashoggi was thereafter not seen again.

Turkish forensic authorities who spent more than nine hours scouring the consulate premises now say that Khashoggi was murdered by what Trump calls “could be rogue elements”, according to the explanation to him by King Salman.  It is a way of trying to dampen the implicit responsibility of the kingdom in the killing and laying the blame to MBS, who has close links to the Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

Khashoggi’s criticism of MBS put him in a bind with the Saudi policies in Middle East. He wrote in his column in The Washington Post: “We are expected to vigorously heap praise on the crown prince while avoiding any reference” to the regressive social reforms particularly the wave of arrests of princes, prominent businessmen, activists and Muslim leaders. It also covered the war in Yemen and the disagreement with Qatar and the Kingdom of Oman. He said that, “Saudi Arabia was not always this repressive; now, it is unbearable.”

On this unbearability, Khashoggi’s Washington Post editor, Karen Attiah, said of his disappearance [and killing]: “We are not going to let this go. What comes through in conversations with him is how honestly he loves [loved] Saudi Arabia and feels [felt] that it is [was] his duty to write what he sees [saw] to be the truth.”

It is that truth that has caused Jamal Khashoggi’s death!



Ikebesi Omoding is the acclaimed author of a weekly column titled: From the Outside Looking In

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