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Trump 'demanding' answers on Khashoggi

11 October 2018

The disappearance and suspected murder of veteran Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi after he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last week has set off a storm of reaction on social media. Khashoggi supported efforts to nudge the entrenched ultraconservative clerics to accept reforms in the kingdom.

Khashoggi went to the consulate to take care of some paperwork for his upcoming marriage to a Turkish national. The kingdom dismisses the allegation as "baseless".

Embassies and consulates under the Vienna Convention are technically foreign soil and must be protected by host nations.

On Thursday, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan expressed worries about Khashoggi's disappearance, saying Ankara could not be silent over the incident.

Karen Elliott House, a veteran writer on Saudi affairs and chairwoman of the board of trustees at RAND Corp., said USA support for the Yemen war is likely to be the focus of congressional criticism but won't endanger a relationship that has endured for decades, underpinned by shared strategic interests.

The wealthy former government insider wrote columns for The Washington Post, including some critical of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

USA intelligence officials reportedly intercepted communications that the Saudis discussed a plan to lure and capture Khashoggi before his disappearance, a person familiar with the situation said in The Post. Bob Corker and Lindsey Graham and Democratic Sens. "They don't know over there", he said, although it's unclear if he meant the Saudis did not know or if Turkish authorities who are investigating still do not know.

In this February 1, 2015, photo, Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi speaks during a press conference in Manama, Bahrain. Two others flew out commercially, Sabah said. There are also reports that Turkish intelligence is in possession of a video showing Khashoggi's murder.

Trump said the United States is doing well economically in part due to "what we are doing with our defense systems", and said, "frankly I think that would be a very, very tough pill to swallow for our country". The unnamed official who spoke to the Times said it was "like "Pulp Fiction" in its gruesomeness. Investigators have not found his body but have video surveillance showing Khashoggi entering the consulate October 2.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman told Bloomberg News in an interview last week that Khashoggi had left the consulate shortly after entering it last week and that he was ready to let Turkey search the building.

On Tuesday, footage and identities of the "assassination" squad were made public. According to the images, a vehicle that went inside the consulate was then driven to the consul-general's residence nearby, around two hours after Mr Khashoggi had gone in. Yet Jamal did not think the Saudis could force him to stay at the consulate in Turkey, even if they wanted to arrest him.

Meanwhile, UN human rights expert David Kaye called for an independent worldwide investigation into the disappearance, urging that the probe "should not be politicised".

Turkish prosecutors are already looking into the case.

Erdogan said the kingdom has the responsibility to prove its claim that the missing Saudi journalist left the consulate alive.

Jamal Khashoggi, 59, has not been heard from his fiance nor coworkers after his disappearance on October 2.

Trump told reporters he had talked with officials in Saudi Arabia "at the highest level" about Khashoggi's disappearance, but offered no indication on his whereabouts.

Senator Rand Paul said he would push for a vote in the Senate this week blocking USA arms sales to Saudi Arabia. However, they have provided no evidence for him leaving the premises. Government sources said at the weekend that police believed Khashoggi was killed by a team specially sent to Istanbul, thought to consist of 15 Saudis. Politicians in the United States, Riyadh's main ally, have warned that any harm done to the Washington Post contributor will jeopardize America's relations with the world's largest oil exporter.

Trump 'demanding' answers on Khashoggi