Saudi Arabia’s goose is cooked!

Towheed Feroze
Published : 16:31, Oct 23, 2018 | Updated : 19:12, Feb 06, 2019

Towheed FerozeAfter prevaricating and equivocation, Saudi Arabia has finally admitted that missing dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi was actually killed inside the consulate.
However, what is most disconcerting is Saudi Arabia’s version of events which states that a ‘scuffle’ in the consulate resulted in the death of Jamal.
The version given says, at one point of the ‘talks’, a brawl broke out and Jamal ended up dead.
The words ‘brawl’ or ‘scuffle’ have been used to play down the savagery of what happened inside.
In fact, the world is compelled to ask about the nature of the ‘talks’ inside the Saudi mission. Sorry, we have not heard of too many people getting killed when talks lead to argument, especially, in a diplomatic premise.
Well, the world has heard the rather sanitised version of what Saudi Arabia has to say but not too many are convinced by the explanation.
In real terms: a man who entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to get his marriage papers was brutally murdered, followed by weeks of complete denial.
Interestingly, a seasoned BBC correspondent with profound experience of working in the Middle East gave us a very realistic but cynical perspective of what the implications may be.
Articulating on possible ramifications, he simply underlined the deep pocket of Saudi Arabia, the billion dollar weapons deal with the West and said, after some time, the death will be forgotten and ‘business will be as usual.’
That maybe the case but saying that the killing will not dent Saudi Arabia’s image is possibly wrong.
Saudi Arabia will have credibility issues for a long time
Maybe governments which sell weapons to Saudi Arabia would want this event to quickly become history and countries receiving aid from the desert kingdom will maintain silence, but the global media will take everything said by the administration of the desert kingdom with a pinch of salt.
Bluntly speaking, there was a murder and they tried, brazenly, to hide it. The truth only came out because there were CCTV cameras around, the footage from them could not be tampered with and, Turkish government claimed to have incontrovertible proof of the killing.
The Saudi top leadership is now saying they did not have any knowledge of this and the misdeed was committed by renegades.
So, renegades are harboured inside the consulate on foreign soil!
The admission of murder came only after Turkish forensic experts came out from the consulate and said that they have ample evidence of foul play.
Before this, Saudi administration was persistent in saying that Jamal Khashoggi had left the consulate.
Western states may be selling arms to the desert kingdom once the heat cools off but the treachery involved in the murder will continue to irk.
Many will look at the incident as a flagrant effort to cover up a killing with lies.
What does Turkey know?
Turkey has said several times that the unvarnished truth of the killing will be made public. The question is, why is Turkey giving warnings and for what purpose?
Turkey had been maintaining from the very start that the journalist had been killed. This means, they knew from the beginning and possibly had enough incriminating evidence even before the forensic team entered the Saudi embassy premises.
US president Donald Trump also observed at one point, before the Saudi government admitted to the death, that chances are high Jamal Khashoggi is not alive.
Extrapolating from all these, it can be said that way before the forensic team entered the diplomatic premise, top people were certain of what had taken place within the walls.
Now the question is, will Turkey reveal everything or will the suppression of details be used to get concessions from the desert kingdom, either in the form of international support or other assistance?
With international politics, Jamal’s death becomes insignificant
Let’s be honest, at this point, the killing of Jamal Khashoggi is just a piece in a large complex political roulette. The death triggered the game, and now, it’s pushed to the sideline.
At the centre of the debate is that black gold called oil. Saudi Arabia can rattle the global market if there is too much pressure on her and, she will be followed by close allies like Kuwait, Oman, UAE and others. With the world already feeling the repercussion of the US-China trade war, a Saudi led oil embargo may further destabilize the global economy.
Then there are the issues of weapons being sold to the desert kingdom. If contracts are revoked then a billion dollar sale falls flat.
But if there is only strict rhetoric and no firm action then this killing will make many other regimes in the world become dangerously audacious in dealing with dissidents.
Jamal was killed inside the consulate and in the future, murders may be carried out in homes or any other place.
It would be interesting to see how the killing is dealt with in the days to come. Most probably, a few scapegoats will be rounded up and executed and that will be the end of the consulate killing.
However, the media has seen the complete denial of the killing in the initial days after the journalist’s disappearance which will translate into one cautionary line: don’t assume that everything told by an established authority is the absolute truth.
In a time, when all governments are fighting misinformation, we just saw a deliberate attempt to propagate a falsehood to hoodwink the world.
Towheed Feroze is a News Editor at Bangla Tribune and teaches at the University of Dhaka.

***The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the opinions and views of Bangla Tribune.