On 2 October 2018, Jamal Khashoggi, a prominent exiled critic of the Saudi regime and journalist for the Washington Post attended the Saudi consulate in Turkey to retrieve paperwork needed for his impending marriage to Turkish national Hatice Cendiz. Ms Cendiz waited for him outside the consulate in vain; he never emerged. Weeks have now passed and Turkish authorities have drip-fed a stream of gruesome information about their investigation into Khashoggi’s disappearance and apparent murder within the confines of the embassy.
Details which have emerged include the arrival in Turkey of a team of 15 special forces officers and intelligence officials, information about Khashoggi having been tortured, killed, beheaded and dismembered with a bone saw. Apparently, some areas at the Saudi consulate where Khashoggi was last seen alive had been repainted and toxic materials had been found by police. Turkish sources have apparently alleged that the body was transported to the consul general’s house nearby and disposed of. On 15 October, CNN reported that it had been informed by sources that the Saudis are preparing a report that will say that Khashoggi died in a botched interrogation intended to lead to his abduction from Turkey. According to reports over the last 24 hours, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has travelled to Saudi Arabia for crisis talks regarding the unfolding situation and is on route to Turkey.
Saudi Arabia is clearly no beacon for human rights. While there is no pecking order for atrocious acts of violence, it is hard to ignore Saudi Arabia’s three-year campaign of indiscriminate bombing of Yemen, devastating the civilian population and leading to mass starvation. Nor should we ignore the spate of beheadings in the country.
So why does the Khashoggi case strike such a nerve?