Arab allies hail Saudis' response as West seeks answers

ISTANBUL • Turkey does not want anything covered up in the case of slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, nor will it blame anyone in advance, the ruling party's spokesman said yesterday.

"Turkey will reveal whatever had happened. Nobody should ever doubt it," said Mr Omer Celik, spokesman for the Justice and Development Party, the Anadolu news agency reported.

Mr Khashoggi, a critic of Saudi Arabia's powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was last seen on Oct 2 entering his country's consulate in Istanbul.

Saudi Arabia yesterday said Mr Khashoggi died in a fight inside the consulate - Riyadh's first acknowledgement of his death after two weeks of denials that it was involved in his disappearance.

No one had put more pressure on the oil-rich state during the crisis than Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The two countries have competed for influence in the Middle East and clashed over Turkey's support for Qatar in a feud that divided the region.

Mr Erdogan and his aides have narrated the Khashoggi crisis, focusing the world's attention on what they said was a brazen, state-sponsored assassination on its soil. Grisly details of the alleged killing were released to the Turkish and international news media.

Mr Erdogan also publicly upbraided Saudi Arabia's leaders, accusing them of obstructing the probe. The Khashoggi investigation, with its allegations of high-level collusion by Saudi officials, provided Turkey with an opportunity to damage the crown prince's reputation, analysts said, and to drive a wedge between Saudi Arabia and the United States.

Turkish investigators are likely to find out what happened to Mr Khashoggi's body "before long", a senior official said yesterday.

Around the world, Saudi Arabia's Arab allies rallied to its side while the West and the United Nations called for a thorough probe.

The United Arab Emirates hailed Saudi Arabia for its response to Mr Khashoggi's death. Riyadh said King Salman had dismissed five officials, including two top aides to the crown prince.

"The United Arab Emirates welcomes the decisions and the directives by King Salman," regarding the Khashoggi affair, state news agency WAM said. Egypt and Bahrain likewise praised King Salman's move as an act of justice.

Western leaders have pressed Saudi Arabia to come clean on how Mr Khashoggi was killed.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she does not accept Saudi Arabia's explanation. Australia pulled out of an investment summit in Saudi Arabia in protest at the killing while Britain said it was considering the "next steps" .

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said a lot remained unanswered. "What happened? How did he die? Who is responsible?" he said in Copenhagen.

"Thorough investigation is necessary."


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 21, 2018, with the headline Arab allies hail Saudis' response as West seeks answers. Subscribe