GZERO Media logo

THE KHASHOGGI MURDER MYSTERY

THE KHASHOGGI MURDER MYSTERY

Jamal Khashoggi is a man with an audience. Few of his fellow Saudis can match his 1.6 million Twitter followers. He’s a writer, journalist, and a one-time confidante of Saudi royals.


Then, presumably as part of a drive by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MBS) to consolidate power before he becomes king, several of Khashoggi’s friends were arrested. When Khashoggi spoke publicly on his friends’ behalf, he lost his job with the kingdom’s al-Hayat newspaper and was reportedly advised to stop tweeting.

In June 2017, Khashoggi left Saudi Arabia for the United States, where he has since written for The Washington Post. Khashoggi has become an outspoken critic of the Saudi government and crown prince, both in print and on various television networks.

“I have left my home, my family and my job, and I am raising my voice. To do otherwise would betray those who languish in prison,” Khashoggi wrote for thePost in September 2017. Of Mohammad bin Salman, Khashoggi said, “Yes, he’s fulfilling a promise to purge radicalism in Saudi Arabia. But… he’s not allowing any form of expression, except expression that supports him.”

One week ago, Khashoggi and his fiancée, a Turkish citizen, went to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul so that Khashoggi could fill out paperwork that would allow them to marry. Khashoggi, reassured by friends that Saudi officials would not arrest him, entered the building. His fiancée waited outside. Khashoggi never came out.

Turkish investigators say they believe Khashoggi was murdered inside the consulate, that the murder was planned in advance, and that Saudis smuggled his body from the building. The Saudi government denies the charge. No evidence has yet been publicly presented, but the astonishing accusation that Saudis have murdered a journalist in the heart of Istanbul has made headlines around the world.

The bigger picture: Beyond speculation about Khashoggi’s fate is a stark reminder of the shifting geopolitics of the Middle East. Relations between Turkey and Saudi Arabia are already strained, in part because Turkey has maintained constructive relations with Iran, a bitter Saudi rival that MBS wants to isolate. Turkey also has warm relations with Qatar, a country the Saudis have blockaded. Turkey’s own political system represents a brand of political Islam that Saudis see as part of an Arab Spring-related threat to the region.

How can Turkey respond to this shocking event? In the past, Turkey might have appealed for help to the United States, its NATO ally. To put it politely, this is an awkward moment for such an appeal. President Donald Trump has warm relations with the future Saudi king, and just two months ago Trump took the extraordinary step of imposing sanctions on Turkey in response to the detention of a US preacher still held inside that country.

Adding to Turkey’s isolation is the grim irony that this country is hardly a friend to reporters. In fact, Turkey is “the world’s biggest prison for professional journalists,” according to Reporters Without Borders, a rights organization.

In short, there’s just not much Turkey can do about this.

Pop quiz: what percentage of plastic currently gets recycled worldwide? Watch this video in Eni's Energy Shot series to find out and learn what needs to be done to prevent plastic from ending up in our oceans. Plastic is a precious resource that should be valued, not wasted.

This Monday, March 8, is International Women's Day, a holiday with roots in a protest led by the Russian feminist Alexandra Kollontai that helped topple the Tsar of Russia in 1917. More than a hundred years later, amid a global pandemic that has affected women with particular fury, there are dozens of women-led protests and social movements reshaping politics around the globe. Here we take a look at a few key ones to watch this year.

More Show less

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny shocked the world last year when he recovered from an attempted assassination plot by poisoning — an attempt that bore all the fingerprints of Russian government. Then he shocked the world again by returning to Russia and timing that return with the release of an hours-long documentary that catalogued the Putin regime's extensive history of corruption. Virtually no one, therefore, was shocked when he was immediately sentenced to a lengthy prison term. Anne Applebaum, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and expert on authoritarian regimes, believes there was a method to Navalny's madness. "His decision of '….I'm going to do something that harms me personally, but is going to be a lesson for Russians. I'm going teach a generation of Russians how to be brave.' I mean, not very many people would have the guts to do that."

Applebaum's conversation with Ian Bremmer is part of the latest episode of GZERO World, airing on public television stations nationwide starting Friday, March 5. Check local listings.

It's not like things are going well in Mexico.

COVID has killed more people there than in any country except the United States and Brazil. Just 2 percent of Mexicans have gotten a first vaccine jab, compared with nearly 24 in the US. The Biden administration made clear this week that it won't send vaccines to its southern neighbor until many more Americans have been vaccinated. Mexico's government has cut deals for doses from China, Russia, and India.

More Show less

A body blow for Pakistan's Prime Minister: Imran Khan suffered an embarrassing defeat this week when members of the National Assembly, the country's lower house, voted to give the opposition bloc a majority in the Senate. (In Pakistan, lower house legislators and provincial assemblies elect senators in a secret ballot.) The big drama of it all is that Khan's own Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party holds a lower house majority, which means that lawmakers supposedly loyal to his party voted in secret for opposition candidates. Khan's allies claim that PTI members were bribed to support the opposition, and the prime minister says he will ask for a lower house vote of confidence in his leadership. That vote will not be secret, but even if he survives, the political damage is done. Without a Senate majority, he has no chance of passing key reform plans, including constitutional amendments meant to centralize financial and administrative control in the federal government. Khan has, however, refused to resign.

More Show less
The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal