Home Opinion Op-Ed Freedom of expression and its rogue killers

Freedom of expression and its rogue killers

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Reeba Akram Lodhi |

It’s pretty unfortunate that in the world of politics, New Year doesn’t always mean new beginnings. The dirty power game remains unhindered through the folds of time and in these folds justice and peace suffers a hard blow. It’s been more than three months since the brutal murder of Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Initially, it was perceived that Turkish authorities were so keen to dig up the truth but time proved that hopeless optimism in politics is a fool’s game.

Turkey itself has a bad record of journalistic freedom and hence their intention was under scrutiny from the beginning. Hitherto, Turkish authorities have used this fiasco to achieve their own foreign policy goals which makes one question the notion of freedom of expression and its so-called guardian “democracy”. It is hard to differentiate between Saudi Arabia and Turkey when both states are ferociously following the rhetoric to expand their own sphere of influence through the blood of innocents.

This has strategic importance as this in diplomatic language means that Ankara wants to mend its ties and is giving chances to the U.S. to reciprocate probably by handing over Fethullah Güllen.

There is a wide set of discourse on whether the death of Jamal Khashoggi has any significance, especially in terms of initiating a change. The news of other Saudi journalist and activists being interrogated and imprisoned have been reported for a while now; Turki Bin Abdul Aziz Al-Jasser a Saudi journalist have been reportedly killed in Saudi Arabia, moreover Saudi human rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul was arrested and is allegedly being tortured while still in captivity for no apparent crime.

However, it is well established among many analysts that Jamal Khashoggi’s incident is not one of those which can be forgotten after the storm. It is not only significant for global journalistic freedom and security but also has diplomatic value. While Turkey has played the cards right and used the ongoing events as leverage against Saudi Arabia.

Read more: Defamation under freedom of expression

It has not openly accused crown prince of the murder of Jamal Khashoggi because Ankara realizes that control stays in their hands as long as they are the only party who has the audio recording. Its importance for the US cannot be ignored as turkey and U.S. relations have been bitter on various conflicting issues whether it may be due to arrest of U.S. citizens; (Andrew Brunson), regional policy disagreements or on extradition of Fethullah Güllen.

Nevertheless, Turkish court did release Andrew Brunson on 7th October, just a few days after the Jamal Khashoggi’s incident. This has strategic importance as this in diplomatic language means that Ankara wants to mend its ties and is giving chances to the U.S. to reciprocate probably by handing over Fethullah Güllen. This all depends on the narrative on which the U.S. wants to maneuver on Jamal Khashoggi’s episode.

As Jamal’s murder seems to make a political stir and talks for accountability, yet, it cannot be ignored how this unfortunate event has revealed the unforgiving and inhumane side of power politics.

The regional visit of U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, is really significant, as an ex-director of CIA Mike Pompeo enjoys the luxury to know the reality that has been hidden behind the curtains (most probably knows about the reality behind Jamal Khashoggi’s murder).

CIA investigation has already suggested that Crown Prince is also involved in the planned murder of a Saudi journalist; this, however, has been denied by Saudi Officials. On his visit, Mike Pompeo has insisted Saudis present a ‘credible narrative’ and to make Khashoggi’s killers accountable. Along with this, he has urged to end the diplomatic crisis among the GCC countries because this is against the interest of U.S.

Read more: Canada sanctions 17 Saudi nationals over Khashoggi killing

Qatar crisis began on June 2017 when members of GCC and other countries initiated a blockade and alleged that Qatar was involved in supporting and funding terrorist organizations and networks. This was initially supported by the U.S. as 13 demands presented to Qatar reflected the influence of U.S. on the decision.

This counter tactic to align Qatar’s policies with the U.S. and other countries was efficiently dealt by Qatar as it somehow managed to survive during the blockade. Qatar hosts the largest U.S. military base in the Middle East and the U.S. cannot afford the longevity of the Gulf crisis.

Qatar is strategically really important for the U.S. and it needs stability between GCC countries in order to counter Iran in the region. In these negotiations, one with Jamal Khashoggi’s card will have to negotiate advantage to make Saudi’s agree to negotiate and break the lull in talks.

Read more: Freedom of expression or National interests ?

In the world of politics, the Khashoggi’s episode is yet another tool to meet policy ends. Its impact on Middle East politics can be truly calculated with the passage of time. One may find both, hope and despair from this ordeal. As Jamal’s murder seems to make a political stir and talks for accountability, yet, it cannot be ignored how this unfortunate event has revealed the unforgiving and inhumane side of power politics. Politics in which freedom of expression is equaled to one’s own life and where democratic or so-called bearers of ‘human rights’ does care about the humans outside their national identities.

Reeba Akram Lodhi is a political analyst and has a keen interest in writing. The views expressed in this are author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.


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