The disappearance and most likely murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Arabian Consulate in Istanbul last week is nothing short of an insult to Turkey.
As President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s advisor Yasin Aktay – who is also a journalist and was the whistleblower on his close friend’s disappearance – put it; getting to the bottom of this affair has become a matter of honor for Ankara.
To start with, the incident shows just how much respect Saudi Crown Prince Muhammed Bin Salman (MBS) has for this country. It is patently clear that this whole operation could not to have been carried out without his instructions or approval.
At any rate, MBS does not have a good record with regard to treating dissidents, so fingers will inevitably point at him. He is in the hot seat now in a way that he probably never expected to be when he authorized this operation. It defies logic how he thought he would get away with it.
Turkey’s own less that favorable record against opposition journalists may have lead him to the notion that Ankara would not make a big issue out of this matter, especially if the sting operation was executed with the professional expertise of Mossad, leaving more speculation that evidence in its wake.
MBS may have been correct in that assumption if the operation had not been carried out so amateurishly. We will never know…
Some are suggesting that we may also be dealing with a simple case of the traditional arrogance of Saudi royals.
Nagehan Alci, a Turkish commentator who is close to the government, wrote that international dependence on Saudi oil, and the attraction of Aramco shares may have led MBS into believing that getting rid of Khashoggi in this manner would not cause much of a headache as far as Turkey and the U.S. are concerned.
Whatever the case may be, Turkey has been left with no choice now but to investigate this matter with all the means available to it. The investigation has already revealed information about the Saudi agents suspected of carrying out this crime.
Their identities and information about their movements while in Turkey are splashed all over the papers, and no doubt more than one country will want to note these.
Given this degree of incompetence one can only conclude that there is a serious intelligence deficiency, in every sense of that word, in Riyadh. The affair has become an international issue and will no doubt continue to hound MBS in ways he did not foresee.
Ankara, for its part, has to ensure now that MBS, who clearly was not overly concerned about the difficult situation he would leave Turkey in with this operation, does not reap whatever advantage he expected to reap from it.
This crime also reveals desperation on the part of MBS. He must be pretty worried that he faces an existential threat in order to stoop to such depths. We have already witnessed oddities that surprised the world, such as his mass arrest of members of the Saudi royal elite.
Such acts of desperation could also be a sign that Saudi Arabia, which is as much of a sealed box as the old Albania was, has the potential to unexpectedly implode at any time. Very little is known about what happens in the Kingdom so the Khashoggi affair may turn out to be the catalyzer of events.
It is no secret, of course, that there is little love lost between the Turkish government and the Saudi regime, even if the sides have maintained a thin veneer of friendly ties. This affair could also end up erasing that veneer, especially now that Turkey has thrown all its resources into trying to solve this heinous crime.