Turkish President Erdogan’s didn’t quite deliver on his promise to reveal “the naked truth” in the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi during a speech on Tuesday before the Turkish parliament, though he did raise important questions while providing the most detailed public statement yet on the killing, which corroborated several anonymously sourced reports that surfaced in recent days.
Though it was conspicuously timed to overlap with the opening of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s “Davos in the Desert,” Erdogan’s speech didn’t include any previously unreported bombshell allegations, nor the “smoking gun” to connect the killing directly to MbS, Erdogan did assert that the “savage” killing had been pre-planned by the Saudi government, contradicting the Saudi government’s official story that Khashoggi’s death was the result of a botched interrogation, and that he died after a brief struggle…with 15 Saudi intelligence operatives, as the Financial Times pointed out. Though his statement was the most aggressive yet from the Turkish government, it notably stopped short of directly accusing the Saudi leadership of murder.
“We have significant signs that this was not something that happened instantaneously, spontaneously,” Mr Erdogan said in speech to members of his parliamentary party. “Khashoggi was murdered in a ferocious manner.”
Erdogan said the gathering of the 15 intelligence operatives in Istanbul was clearly no accident, and that the Turkish government wants to know “on whose orders” they were sent. While the Saudis had taken “an important step” in admitting to the killing, Erdogan said more details – such as the location of Khashoggi’s remains – must be shared with Turkish investigators.
“People who had qualifications related to the incident gathered in Istanbul,” he said. “On whose orders did they come . . .? We want an answer.”
“Why has the body not been found?”
Erdogan also questioned why the Saudis had refused to open their consulate to Turkish investigators until days after Khashoggi’s disappearance.
“Dear members, let me tell you that the Saudi authorities have taken an important step confirming the crime, the killing. Now we ask Saudi authorities to work hard to reveal the names of those involved from bottom to top.”
As Bloomberg pointed out, hours before Erdogan’s speech, the Turkish newspaper Sabah, which is closely tied to the Turkish state, reported that Ahmad Abdullah al-Muzaini, the attaché of the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, helped orchestrate the murder on the ground and was the main Saudi intelligence representative there. Meanwhile, Reuters reported Monday that a close confidant of MbS whom the newswire described as “the Saudi Steve Bannon” helped plan the killing and even spoke with Khashoggi via Skype before ordering that he be killed.
Watch the full video of Erdogan’s speech below:
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