Friday, October 12, 2018


The apparent murder of a Saudi dissident and journalist is a convenient lever for Turkey to weaken their rival Saudi Arabia.

We need answers from Saudi Arabia over the apparent murder of Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents in Turkey. The Saudis need to prosecute those involved and God help them if they can't at least make a plausible case that it was a rogue operation.

Given the role of Saudi Arabia in funding the rise of Islamofascist ideology that has polluted Islam and given the prominence of Saudi jihadis in the 9/11 terror attacks, Saudi Arabia is a barely tolerated ally of America whose oil production and more recent efforts to help fight Islamism have only begun to redress American ... concerns ... about the Saudis.

That said, Turkey can exploit the crisis and apparent murder to build influence in the Arab world in the regions the Ottoman Empire vacated a century ago.

Recall that Turkey is building bases in the Red Sea and Horn of Africa region as well as in the Gulf region.

Add in Turkish efforts to woo Shia-majority post-Saddam Iraq long shunned (with efforts only recently being made to emphasize a common Arab heritage) by the Saudis over the Shia-Sunni divide.

Turkey could also score points with America at the expense of Saudi Arabia by releasing an American pastor held by Turkey. Which would end the crushing American pressure on Turkey's economy, too--assuming American pressure is more important than Erdogan's economic ineptitude in hurting Turkey's economy.

Clearly, Turkey would rather have American anger directed at the Saudis if it would do similar damage to Saudi Arabia.

Turkey is exploiting the apparent Saudi crime to weaken Saudi regional influence and give Turkey openings to argue that the former non-Arab colonial power Turkey is a better partner for Arabs in the Middle East than Saudi Arabia.

Still, Turkey still has some explaining to do on the Iran issue to really replace Saudi Arabia in the hearts and minds of Iraq and Gulf Arab states.

UPDATE: Being a desperately needed reformer isn't a get out of jail free card for Mohammed bin Salman.

UPDATE: Are the sources pointing to Saudi guilt reliable? I honestly have no ability to assess that charge. But I doubt we know as much as the early reporting is indicating we know.

Also, before the charges start flying that Trump encourages the murder of journalists, 46 were killed worldwide in 2017 and 44 so far in 2018. That compares to the Obama total of 430 from 2009 through 2016. Or just under 54 per year on average.

UPDATE: More (tip to Instapundit), including the threat this affair poses to the effort to halt and roll back Iranian aggression in the region.

It is odd that after decades of Saudi Arabia being a human rights problem that this apparent murder is getting this much attention.

Mind you, if the Saudis did this, we can't let it slide. But for decades we've let Saudi Arabia slide on human rights because foreign policy is complicated and we have other interests to promote besides the principle of not murdering and dismembering journalists.

But at least let's find out what happened and who did it before acting in a manner consistent with all our interests.

UPDATE: Let's hope this provides answers:

A delegation from Saudi Arabia has arrived in Turkey as part of a joint investigation into the disappearance of prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, three Turkish sources said on Friday.

A Saudi source also said a senior royal, Prince Khaled al-Faisal, visited Turkey on Thursday for talks. Later the same day Turkey said the two countries had agreed to form a joint working group - at Riyadh's initiative - to investigate the case.

While it would be stupid for the Saudis to think they could do this and avoid consequences, stupidity (or group think) is far too common to rule it out.

But I'm not sure I trust either Turkey or Saudi Arabia to investigate this.

UPDATE: We aren't taking this lightly:

US President Donald Trump threatened Riyadh on Saturday with "severe punishment" if a journalist was killed inside its Istanbul consulate, as Saudi officials were to hold talks in Turkey about his fate.

Although there is a wide range of reaction, between doing nothing and nuking them, in accordance with our national interests. Welcome to Foreign Policy 101.

I wonder what our intelligence agencies know? Really, all we know for sure is that Khashoggi is missing. After that we seem to be relying on Turkey and other less-than-reliable sources.

UPDATE: Not that he deserved to die for it, but Khashoggi is no dissident championing democracy and liberty.

It just seems odd that in the long history of Saudi human and civil rights violations that the death of this man is the hill to die on for punishing Saudi Arabia.

UPDATE: More. Not a mere dissident but a player in a dangerous game for both sides. Unless this is just an attempt to tear down his reputation.

UPDATE: And yeah, Turkey is an odd choice for champion of human rights.

UPDATE: Interesting speculations. But:

All we really know is that Khashoggi walked in but not out, and that the Saudis sent a suspicious delegation to Istanbul on the day he vanished. Until the sources provide evidence to substantiate their accounts, speculation is all we’ll have.

And do we really know the Saudi delegation is suspicious? What kind of Saudi delegations come and go from that consulate on any given day? Or are the Turks the final word on what is suspicious?

You can't rule out stupidity. Or a subordinate exceeding their authority. Or something else.

UPDATE: Questions. Tip to Instapundit.