Turkey’s surprising role in the Khashoggi case

As worldwide condemnation grows, the Saudi Arabian government definitely acts like it is guilty in the alleged murder of journalist Jamal Khasshoggi.

The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, on Tuesday said police who entered the consulate for the first time on Monday had found some surfaces had been painted over. “My hope is that we can reach conclusions that will give us a reasonable opinion as soon as possible, because the investigation is looking into many things such as toxic materials and those materials being removed by painting them over,” he told reporters.

Turkish investigators were allowed access to the diplomatic building for the first time on Monday afternoon. Technicians in overalls, gloves and covered shoes emerged nine hours later.

Ankara has wanted to search the consulate for days, but under the Vienna convention, diplomatic posts are technically foreign soil that must be protected and respected by host countries.

Before the Turkish team arrived, cleaners with disinfectant, mops and buckets were seen entering the building’s main door.

Although it was not immediately clear what evidence could be extracted two weeks after Khashoggi’s disappearance, al-Jazeera reported that a source in the Turkish attorney general’s office said the search team found sufficient evidence to “support the belief” the missing writer was killed.

Police plan to conduct a second search, of the Saudi consul’s home in Istanbul, on Tuesday.

I am a little surprised that the Turkish government seem to be taking an aggressive stance on this issue. Erdoğan is not exactly known for his concern for human rights and it would not have surprised me if the Turkish authorities had taken a hands-off attitude, saying that diplomatic immunity prevented them from doing anything at all, in order to deflect attempts to look at its own record. There must be something going in Turkey-Saudi Arabia-US relationships that is prompting this.


  1. Jenora Feuer says

    At the very least, Turkey probably has an attitude of ‘how dare you cause this public a mess in our country’.

    The fact that his fiancée was Turkish may have something to do with it as well.

  2. Owlmirror says

    I suspect that Erdoğan is expressing his outrage at being blindsided. If the Saudis had cleared this with him first, I strongly suspect that he would have been cool with it.

    So the cynical prediction is that what will happen is that the Saudis will make some trade concessions, or even give Erdoğan an outright bribe and apology via backchannel, and the investigation will suddenly disappear.

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