This story seems to be creating quite a stir:
Jamal Khashoggi, a well-known journalist and critic of the Saudi government, walked into the country’s consulate in Istanbul last week to obtain some documents and has not been seen since.
His fiancée fears that he has been kidnapped or killed. The authorities in Istanbul believe he was murdered by Saudi agents. Saudi Arabia insists that he left the consulate shortly after he arrived.
So a Saudi walks into a Saudi embassy in Istanbul and doesn’t come out again. The Turkish government, led by the oh-so neutral and trustworthy Recep Erdoğan, says he’s been murdered. Sorry, why do I care?
Mr Khashoggi is a prominent journalist who has covered major stories, including the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the rise of Osama Bin Laden, for various Saudi news organisations.
Okay, it’s not good that journalists are being killed but Saudi Arabia has been oppressing or jailing journalists for decades. And the Turkish government complaining about the treatment of dissident journalists is a bit like the mayor of Las Vegas complaining about light pollution in upstate New York. So why the sudden fuss in the west?
He went into self-imposed exile in the US last year, and has written a monthly column in the Washington Post in which he has criticised the policies of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Ah. So he’s a darling of the US media establishment, and anti-Saudi. Now there is much to criticise Saudi Arabia for, but let’s also remember that their fiercest critics are Iran and, more recently, Turkey who are both locked in an ideological religious power struggle in the Middle East. Perhaps a little skepticism is in order here? How much of this media coverage is being paid for by state-funded lobby groups?
There’s also this:
In truth, Khashoggi never had much time for western-style pluralistic democracy. In the 1970s he joined the Muslim Brotherhood, which exists to rid the Islamic world of western influence. He was a political Islamist until the end, recently praising the Muslim Brotherhood in the Washington Post. He championed the ‘moderate’ Islamist opposition in Syria, whose crimes against humanity are a matter of record. Khashoggi frequently sugarcoated his Islamist beliefs with constant references to freedom and democracy. But he never hid that he was in favour of a Muslim Brotherhood arc throughout the Middle East. His recurring plea to bin Salman in his columns was to embrace not western-style democracy, but the rise of political Islam which the Arab Spring had inadvertently given rise to. For Khashoggi, secularism was the enemy.
Between the uncertainty over the claims, the fact that it’s a squabble between competing Muslim factions in the Middle East, the untrustworthyness of everyone involved, and the journalist in question being a supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood, I’ve concluded I don’t really care. There are other, more worthy things to get outraged about (this, for example, especially when considered alongside this), and I don’t think either the US or UK should entangle themselves in this mess, let alone burn political capital posturing over it.