Khashoggi killing most important incident of 21st century, after 9/11 - Erdoğan

Last year’s murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by agents of a Saudi shadow state is the most influential and controversial incident since the attacks on September 11, 2001, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan wrote in an op-ed for the Washington Post.

Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and vocal critic of Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, was killed while visiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, 2018.

“No other event since 9/11 has posed such a serious threat to the international order or challenged the conventions that the world has come to take for granted,” Erdoğan said in an article that appeared in Monday’s paper, adding that one year later the world still knows little about what happened.  

“Whether all aspects of the Saudi journalist’s death will ever come to light will determine what kind of world our children will live in,” he said. 

Erdoğan said that since the killing Turkish authorities had cooperated with international counterparts, from Saudi Arabia to the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom and a UN investigation, and requested the extradition to Turkey of Khashoggi’s murderers. 

“Turkey’s response to The Post contributing columnist’s killing is based on our desire to uphold the rules-based international system,” said Erdoğan, whose government is the world’s leading jailer of journalists, according to watchdog group the Committee to Protect Journalists. 

Turkey has always seen Saudi Arabia as a friend and ally, yet “a real friend speaks bitter truths,” he said. 

“The 15-member assassination squad that murdered Khashoggi inside Saudi Arabia’s Consulate in Istanbul and chopped his body into pieces served the interests of a shadow state within the kingdom’s government — not the Saudi state or people,” said Erdoğan. 

“We continue to see what happened as a question of justice rather than politics, and maintain that national and international courts alone can deliver justice,” said the president.

“Khashoggi’s assassination was a tragedy but also a blatant abuse of diplomatic immunity,” said Erdoğan.

Citing intelligence sources, Turkish press outlets revealed after Khashoggi’s killing that the murderers had used diplomatic passports. Leaked recordings taken at the consulate suggest they were assisted by the top Saudi diplomat in Istanbul. “Perhaps more dangerous is the impunity that some of the killers seem to enjoy back in the kingdom,” Erdoğan said.

Many questions linger about the court proceedings in Saudi Arabia, said the Turkish president, citing the almost total lack of transparency about the trial, which he said could damage Saudi Arabia’s international reputation. 

“There is an effort underway to justify this lack of transparency with reference to national security. There is a very thick line between doing everything in one’s power to deliver terrorists to justice and committing premeditated murder over the target’s political views,” said Erdoğan. “It would be ridiculous to suggest that Khashoggi’s killing served the cause of justice in any way, shape or form.”

The president vowed that Turkey would continue its efforts to shed light on the murder and keep asking key questions, such as about Khashoggi’s remains and who dispatched the hit squad to Istanbul. 

“It is in our best interest, and in the best interest of humanity, to ensure that such a crime is not committed anywhere again,” said Erdoğan. “Combating impunity is the easiest way to accomplish that goal. We owe it to Jamal’s family.”