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Khashoggi's killing shows Saudi Arabia's growing intolerance towards dissent
November 2, 2018, marks one month since journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed in Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. The brutal killing of a Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi has rattled the world as it has come up as yet another black spot on Saudi Arabia. The gruesome killing of a journalist has also demonstrated Riyadh's growing intolerance towards the voice of dissent.

'Khashoggi, a US resident, paid the price for his virulent criticism of the government of Saudi Arabia on October 2 when he was killed after a visit to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to obtain paperwork before marrying his Turkish fiance. The Saudi government quickly blamed the murder on rogue agents, but the facts that have emerged since then have conveyed things to the contrary.

The Western media's accounts have squarely blamed Saudi Arabia for meticulously planning and executing the plot of murdering the Saudi journalist whose body remains were allegedly recovered from the garden of the official residence of Mohammed al-Otaibi, Saudi Consul General in Istanbul.

On October 22, Khashoggi's remains were found inside a well in a diplomat's garden, alleged Dogu Perincek, leader of Turkey's left-wing Nationalist Patriotic Party.

In the meanwhile, British Prime Minister Theresa May's spokesman described these reports as deeply disturbing saying the location of Khashoggi's body is just one of the questions we need answers to and as such we await the full results of the Turkish investigation.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said Khashoggi was the victim of a carefully planned 'political murder' by Saudi intelligence officers and other officials.

An interesting part in this sordid drama is the stand taken by the United States president Donald Trump. While speaking to reporters at the White House on October 23, Trump said, "They had a very bad original concept, it was carried out poorly and the cover-up was the worst in the history of cover-ups. Whoever thought of that idea, I think is in big trouble. And they should be in big trouble," Trump said.

The US has questioned Saudi crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman Al Saud about Khashoggi's death, and been told he did not know about the operation when it was being planned. He denied the royal family's involvement in the killing of the journalist.

According to Turkish officials they have audio and video evidence suggesting that Khashoggi was murdered by a team of Saudi agents inside the Saudi consulate building in Istanbul as Western media by and large quoted Turkish sources who had heard the audio tapes asserting they showed Khashoggi had been tortured. 

The Saudi Consul General Mohammed al-Otaibi could be heard on one tape warning the alleged Saudi agents, "Do this outside. You're going to get me in trouble," he added.

The Western media has published chilling details of Khashoggi's torture before his eventual murder by Saudi agents flown into Istanbul hours before his arrival in the Saudi consulate and said that he was killed within two hours of arriving and then dismembered.

All this points a finger at the Saudi Arabian government which has been thoroughly discredited in the eyes of the international community. Khashoggi's murder has also triggered the inevitable fire-fighting from Riyadh as Saudi authorities announced arrest of 18 Saudi nationals and dismissal of two senior officials - deputy intelligence chief Ahmad al-Assiri and Saud al-Qahtani, senior aide to Prince Mohammed.

The analysts who are well versed with the development are of the view that Khashoggi's murder will surely set off a political bloodbath within the Saudi polity and sharpen divide between the King and the Crown Prince. It has already lowered the image of Saudi Arabia before its friends and allies.

It is evident from the chain of events that unfolded since the killing of Khashoggi point out that Saudi government has bitten much more than it could chew in this context. One will have to wait and watch how this highly combustible incident would impact on the House of Saud (Saudi Arabian Parliament). Certainly, the incumbent dispensation in Riyadh id all set to face tough time ahead in the journalist murder case.

Meanwhile, UN Human rights chief has asked international experts to help investigate the murder of Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, and called on Riyadh to reveal the whereabouts of his body.

"For an investigation to be carried out free of any appearance of political considerations, the involvement of international experts, with full access to evidence and witnesses, would be highly desirable," Michelle Bachelet, the chief of the world body's human rights wing said.

Khashoggi, a 59-year-old Saudi journalist, was killed after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2 to obtain paperwork ahead of his upcoming wedding. His body has not yet been found.

His death has brought near unprecedented international scrutiny on Saudi Arabia and its powerful Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. The journalist's fianceĢe has accused the regime of a massive cover-up.

The UN rights boss stressed the importance of ensuring the murder be investigated in an independent and impartial manner.

The UN body has welcomed the steps taken by Turkish and Saudi authorities to investigate and prosecute the alleged perpetrators of Khashoggi's murder.

But given the information that high-level officials in Saudi Arabia were apparently involved, and it took place in the Consulate of Saudi Arabia, the bar must be set very high to ensure meaningful accountability and justice for such a shockingly brazen crime against a journalist and government critic.

It was important to determine whether serious human rights violations such as torture, summary execution or enforced disappearance were committed and to identify all those implicated in this crime, irrespective of their official capacity should be probed thoroughly and subsequently punished.

The UN body has asked authorities in both Turkey and Saudi Arabia to cooperate in ensuring that the full truth about Khashoggi's murder comes to light. The support of the UN right body in the murder of a journalist on the line of work has come as a shot in the arm for journalist community all over the world as it would help mount pressure on the respective government to unveil truth behind the gruesome and uncalled for murder.

Forensic examination, including an autopsy on the body of the victim is a crucial element in any investigation into a killing. The Saudi Arabia government should be pressurised to reveal the where about of the body of slain journalist.

Bachelet's has commented three times on Khashoggi's disappearance and murder. It came after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met Saudi Arabia's chief prosecutor, who visited the consulate in Istanbul in the aftermath of the killing, to find out who ordered the journalist's murder, and not spare certain people in his investigation.

Saudi Arabia is seeking to draw a line under the crisis after offering a series of differing narratives following the journalist's disappearance.

Since admitting the murder was premeditated, the Saudi Arabian leadership has blamed a rogue operation for the killing of Khashoggi, who was once an insider in Saudi royal circles and had lived in self-imposed exile in the United States.

In his first public comments on the case, Prince Mohammed, the kingdom's de factor ruler, denounced the repulsive murder for which 18 Saudis including a senior intelligence officer have been detained.

 The murder of Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul four weeks ago has severely damaged the reputation of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has been a favourite of the Trump administration.

It seems unlikely that President Trump will do anything especially substantive to punish the Saudis for the murder, since Trump has repeatedly pointed to the purported $110 billion of arms sales he has secured from Saudi Arabia as a rationale for maintaining close ties with the kingdom.

Trump also needs the Saudis as allies for his anti-Iran policy, and because it is the largest exporter of oil in the world and therefore has the power to set oil prices.

Even if the Trump administration doesn't do much to punish Saudi Arabia, that doesn't mean there isn't already global fallout for Mohammed bin Salman, widely known as MBS.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of merinews.com. In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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