Jamal Khashoggi: What implications does his disappearance have for Saudi relations?

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Quarter past one in the afternoon of the 2nd of October: journalist Jamal Khashoggi enters the consulate of his native Saudi Arabia in Istanbul. He went into the consulate in order to pick up papers in anticipation of his marriage to his Turkish fiancée. He was not seen again.

There are opposing stories about what happened to the journalist; the official Saudi stance is that Khashoggi left the consulate unharmed and of his own free will. However, according to the Turkish version of events, Khashoggi was murdered by a Saudi hit-squad.

Either way, whatever happened to Jamal Khashoggi has not only left his family extremely concerned about what happened to him but has also resulted in diplomatic tensions between Saudi Arabia and countries such as Turkey, the UK, and the USA.

Saudi Arabia claims that Khashoggi left the consulate himself and was not taken away by anyone else. They have, however, provided no evidence for this. Turkey’s President Erdogan has voiced his concern over the matter and has urged the Saudis to provide footage to back up their claims.

According to the BBC, if Saudi Arabia is proved to have been behind the disappearance and suspected murder of the journalist overseas, the country’s relationship with Turkey could hugely deteriorate.

However, it is not only Turkey’s relationship with Saudi Arabia that is on the line. Donald Trump has said there will be “severe punishment” if Riyadh is found responsible.

In addition, the UK comes second in supplying weapons to Saudi Arabia. Not only is it an issue in terms of British-Saudi relations, but Saudi Arabia has been heavily involved in the war in Yemen.

The latter is arguably a big enough reason for the UK to cease its supply of weapons to the Saudis, but if Riyadh is responsible for the suspected killing of Khashoggi, this could be pivotal in the potential cessation of arms supplies from the UK to Saudi Arabia.

While it is still unclear what actually happened to Jamal Khashoggi, one thing is clear: the world’s eyes are on Saudi Arabia and any wrongdoing on Riyadh’s part could have huge consequences for the country.

 

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