Recent events in Turkey, the killing of a dissident journalist inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, have brought into focus the war between governments, and those who would criticise them. Freedom of speech is the foundation of many societies, while in others it is the ‘death knell’ for those who openly, and in some cases, those who ‘secretly’ speak out.
In the ever-evolving debacle which is the ‘Khasoggi event’ there have been so many conflicting reports that it is difficult not to use expressions similar to ones I, and others used when younger, about bad organisation or management of things. “Piss up in a brewery” comes to mind, (after the term given to people who had no idea about managing or controlling anything “They could not organise a piss up in a brewery” is the full expression)
My article is not to express revulsion at the murder of the journalist, it goes without saying that it was a heinous crime, but to focus on the post-incident ‘circus’ which has ensued. After news first broke about the event, the initial response from the Saudi authorities was that Jamal Khasoggi had arrived at, concluded his business, and left the embassy. The arrival, had been clearly seen on CCTV, but there was no evidence of his departure. This was the first step in the ‘incompetence road’ employed by the Saudi government. All embassies are monitored 24/7 by CCTV and other surveillance devices and recording equipment. So without clarifying the information before releasing any kind of statement, they decided to blurt out the standard ‘deny’ statement.
This of course was immediate negated by the evidence provided by the Turkish authorities, leaving the Saudis immediately on the back foot and having to paddle against the flow from the outset.
After several days of back and forth, they were finally in a position where they had to come clean, but still they ‘buggered that up’. They ‘believed’ that he had died by accident during an incident, and said they were still looking into it. My question is, “how can someone die in and incident, while going to collect documents from and embassy?” Marriage documents. This seems to indicate that if you go to an embassy to collect any kind of document they you need body amour and a complete arsenal of weapons.
This was followed by the statement that Mr Khasoggi had died in a ‘fist fight’ (do people still use this expression. Maybe his opponent told him to ‘put his dukes up’) made the Saudis look even more foolish, if that was possible. A fist fight suggests a scuffle which would hardly result in someone’s death.
This lead to the next obvious question. “If he is dead, where is his body?” “Well, er, we don’t know”.
“But you said he died by accident in a fist fight so he should have been taken to hospital, or at least been attended to by a physician or a medic” (1st response)”Er…., let us get back to you on that one. We need to discuss it”
(2nd response)”Ok, ok,… It looks as if he was killed during an interrogation, but we are not too sure about the complete circumstances yet. We’ll get back to you on that one.”
(3rd response)”Well it looks as if we sent a hit squad of 15 assassins from Saudi state security in Riyadh, to the Istanbul Embassy the other day. This may have had something to do with his death, but we can’t confirm this yet.”
(4th response)”After some more investigation work, we have found out that he was tortured, killed, then dismembered, and his body disposed of in woodland……….We think!”
“So we know the story, but again, where is his body?” (5th response)”My people told me that they gave it to a local contractor for disposal, but we don’t know what he did with it.” ……….”Once we confirm, you will be informed.”
If the previous conversation was not so serious, it would be humorous.
This then leads to Washington, where upon hearing the news that an American resident had suffered a grisly demise in a land far away (Trump’s advisers probably got the map out to show him where Turkey is located). Trump’s response, eloquence personified, was along the lines of “…we are still going to sell Saudi Arabia $bn’s worth of arms because if we don’t, the Russians or the Chinese will….” As usual, his first thought was to business, not the human side of the story. This was followed by the ….“let’s wait and see what happens..” (one of his most eloquent lines).
Since the begining of this story the spotlight has stayed away from the Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, who apparently had no knowledge of this event, simply calling it a ‘rogue agent or agents’ acting outside of their jurisdiction.
The main fallout from this debacle is the fiancee of the victim, who should have been looking forward to a life of happy marriage to the man she loved, but instead is faced with the uncertainty of not knowing if she will ever be able to give him a decent send off.
This is another in the catalogue of atrocities which governments carry out with impunity, and are continually supported by their allies.
(images taken from various web sources)