In the case of journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance, either the Turks or the Saudis are lying. For all intents and purposes, it is completely infeasible to believe they are both telling the truth. Either way, Khashoggi, who wrote for the Washington Post and has resided in the United States, is either dead or a prisoner.
Here are the assertions and alleged pieces of evidence Turkey has laid out for the world:
- Video footage shows Khashoggi entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul but never leaving
- Numerous cameras at the compound were allegedly not recording at the time of his visit
- A 15-member Saudi “kill team” has been identified
- The team was seen entering the compound when Khashoggi was there
- Despite offering to allow an entry, the Saudis have not allowed any Turkish investigators into the compound
- The Saudis claim he left unharmed, but no evidence has been provided to back this claim and no video footage of him outside the compound after he entered has been found
- Khashoggi’s fiancee waited outside for him and has not seen him since he entered
All of this, if true, is pretty damaging to the Saudi’s claim that he left unharmed. However, before we jump to the obvious conclusion, let’s first consider a few things. First, the video evidence presented by Turkey has been heavily edited and contains inconsistencies, according to the Washington Post.
We have a likely case of murder or kidnap by the Saudis, but there’s still a chance that Turkey is attempting to frame them. There really aren’t any other viable possibilities.
That means one of them is lying. We’re not talking about little lies. Either Turkey or Saudi Arabia has captured or killed Khashoggi and is in the process of trying to cover it up. While all the evidence points to Saudi Arabia, the evidence is all provided by Turkey. If they were responsible, then it would be easy for them to compile this information and pin it on the Saudis.
If I were to put percentages to the likelihood of guilt, it would be 90/10 that Turkey is telling the truth and Saudi Arabia is covering up an abduction and/or murder. Unfortunately, it’s not quite certain enough to dismiss Turkey altogether.
What this means to us
Both countries are sort of allies. Turkey is our NATO ally and the Saudis have been our second best partners in the Middle East with Israel being our best. Whoever perpetrated this crime and coverup should no longer be our allies in any regard. Both nations are important to the United States, though Saudi Arabia is much more important as the both the catalyst for a future Middle East peace deal as well as one of the forces that props up the U.S. economy despite over $21 trillion worth of debt.
None of that matters if they murdered Khashoggi. We cannot allow our government to do business with a regime that perpetrates this type of crime against someone with deep U.S. ties. He was critical of the Saudi government, which may be enough of a motive to order a hit. Or, it could have been something else. Regardless of why he was abducted and/or killed, it would be unacceptable to continue our positive relationship with them.
Some would argue that it’s just one life that is outweighed by the importance of Saudi Arabia’s (or Turkey’s) friendship during these tumultuous times, but that’s not how we work. That’s not the American way. “Just one life” is too many for a government to take in cold blood.
The whole truth may never been known to the general public. One thing is certain: whoever abducted or killed Khashoggi should be immediately removed from any aid or weapons sales agreements we currently have in place.
Update: Senator Rand Paul has the same idea, though he’s apparently 100% certain it was the Saudis who perpetrated the act.
This week, I intend to introduce another measure to cut all funding, training, advising, and any other coordination to and with the military of Saudi Arabia until the journalist Jamal Khashoggi is returned alive. https://t.co/3wGT30HWEc
— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) October 11, 2018