The Tragedy of Jamal Khashoggi – POLITICO Magazine
All that now may change if it is proven beyond reasonable doubt that Khashoggi was killed while visiting the Saudi Consulate on October 3 or that senior policymakers in Riyadh either ordered or were aware of the plan to target him. Circumstantial evidence, and the fact that Khashoggi remains missing a week after he was last seen alive entering the consulate, has accumulated to the point where the burden of proof falls on the Saudis to show that Khashoggi left the consulate unscathed and of his own accord. This the Saudis have been unable to do, on the flimsy pretext that the surveillance system at the consulate was live-stream only and did not record actual footage. A drip-drip of other tidbits of detail, such as the suggestion that Khashoggi was asked to return to the consulate three days after his initial appointment to complete paperwork needed for his forthcoming marriage to a Turkish woman, or that local Turkish staff reportedly were told not to go into work the day of his disappearance, and the discovery that a team of 15 Saudi security personnel flew into Istanbul and were at the consulate during Khashoggi’s visit, have added to the crescendo of accusations that the Saudis have been unable to explain away or offer even a plausible alternative course of events.
If the Saudis indeed killed Khashoggi, and thought they could get away with it, they have made a grave miscalculation. Not only was he a contributing writer for the influential Washington Post op-ed page — which has been thundering in its demands for accountability — but Khashoggi was well-known on Capitol Hill as a leading Saudi reformer. Members of Congress, including prominent Republicans such as Foreign Affairs chairman Bob Corker of Tennessee and Trump-whisperer Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, have expressed outrage at Saudi Arabia’s behavior and threatened to invoke sanctions under the Global Magnitsky Act, a bill that allows the executive branch to impose targeted sanctions and visa bans on individuals worldwide responsible for human rights violations.
MBS’s crackdown goes well beyond Khashoggi, however. Over the past year, the authorities in Saudi Arabia have arrested dozens, if not hundreds, of writers, journalists, clerics and, most recently, women’s rights advocates, whose arrest in May and June sparked international criticism but little else. The furious Saudi response to comments by the Canadian foreign minister served notice that Saudi Arabia under MBS was not prepared to tolerate external criticism of its domestic affairs, and the descriptions of many of the political detainees as ‘agents of embassies’ and ‘traitors’ in Saudi state-linked media left foreign diplomats shaken by the vehemence of the authorities’ reaction.
Yet another example of what happens when the press and critics of any government become ‘an enemy of the people’ and a despot believes he can get away with getting rid of critics, via government levers of power and corruption.