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Khashoggi Murder: MBS woes are far from over?


News Analysis |

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is not satisfied with Riyadh’s explanation about Khashoggi’s murder saying “all the culprits irrespective of how high profile they are should be punished”. Erdogan refused to accept that it was an act carried out of the radar, without any clear direction from someone high in command. He did not explicitly mentioned Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman but said that whoever ordered the killing must be brought to account.

“The Saudi administration has taken an important step by admitting to the murder. From now on, we expect them to uncover all those responsible for this matter from top to bottom and make them face the necessary punishments,” Erdogan added. “From the person who gave the order, to the person who carried it out, they must all be brought to account.”

To take control of events, he immediately came in contact with Turkish President after which Turkey agreed for a joint investigation of Saudi and Turkish officials.

Saudi Arabia initially denied any involvement in the disappearance of dissident Saudi national and Washington Post Contributor Jamal Khashoggi but later accepted that he was killed after a brawl in Saudi consulate in Istanbul. But the world in general and Turkey in particular, because of the nature of the crime being committed on its territory, has denied accepting the explanation.

They firmly believe that the entire episode was meticulously planned. A notion strengthened by the release of movement details of the 15 member hit squad which arrived in Istanbul especially for this assignment one day before Khashoggi was executed.

Read more: Khashoggi murder ‘planned days in advance’: Turkish President

The contradicting statements, even after the admission of the crime, are the reason why Saudi Arabia still has to face the skepticism of the world. U.S President Donald Trump has also stated that the information provided so far is not convincing enough to rest the case and he is looking for more leads.

The biggest question being posed, and Saudi Authorities have not been able to come up with an apt reply to this, is the whereabouts of the dead body of Jamal Khashoggi. The only thing which will endorse the Saudi version of the story the body being found in a sound state contrary to what Turkish authorities believe that he was dismembered into pieces.

The most probable outcome of the debacle would be the imprisonment or trial of Al-Qahtani for being the core conspirator.

There needs to be an immediate response to the question as 20 days have already elapsed since the incident took place and the natural decomposition process must have long been started.

MBS is not going anywhere!

Irrespective of the severity of what happened and Erdogan demands, Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman is not going to be stripped of his authority. His alleged orders which led to the death of Jamal Khashoggi and the blowback which followed might have flabbergasted King Salman, but he has thrown his full support behind his favorite son.

To take control of events, he immediately came in contact with Turkish President after which Turkey agreed for a joint investigation of Saudi and Turkish officials. The fiasco is most likely to go down with the scapegoating of Saud Al-Qahtani.

Read more: Is Saudi Lobby in tatters due to Khashoggi Murder?

Al-Qahtani, a law graduate, served as media adviser to MBS after holding several positions within the royal court. He had previously worked as a legal adviser with late Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud’s team in 2003 – when King Abdullah was the kingdom’s crown prince.

Al-Qahtani then worked as an adviser to the deputy chief of the royal court, before becoming an adviser to the court in 2012. It is believed that Al-Qahtani was in direct contact via Skype and giving orders to the hit squad while they were dismembering the body of Jamal Khashoggi.

Read more: Turkey vows to reveal ‘naked truth’ over Khashoggi death

Saud Al-Qahtani has been stripped of his post as the Royal Court Advisor but he still heads the cybersecurity and intelligence department of the Kingdom. The most probable outcome of the debacle would be the imprisonment or trial of Al-Qahtani for being the core conspirator.

His closure with MBS, instead of putting an end to the question of Crown Prince’s direct involvement, is going to further strengthen the idea. But eventually, it is the best which Trump, Erdogan, and the rest of the world would have to settle for.