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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.

Meet Ian Martin, an English Professor from Glasgow who is now head of Communications for Eni's International Resources. Approaching his work in the same way he used to hold his lectures, Ian is dedicated to listening and making people around him comfortable. Having working in both Milan and London, Ian utilizes his ability to communicate in different languages and cultures to prepare Eni's global messaging strategy. "Communication is a transfer of humanity," he says, and his job is as much centered around people as it as around language.

Watch Ian's human approach to communications on the most recent episode of Faces of Eni.

How to capture the essence of this incredible, terrible year in a few short words and without using profanity? It's not easy.

Thankfully, the dictionary website Merriam-Webster.com has released its list of most heavily searched words of 2020, and they tell the story of an historic year in US politics and the life of our planet. Here's a sample.

The top word, unsurprisingly, was "Pandemic," a disease outbreak that covers a wide area and afflicts lots of people. In 2020, the coronavirus crisis hit every region of the world, triggering a public health, economic, and political emergency on a geographic scale our planet has never experienced. Differing responses to that problem defined the politics (and geopolitics) of 2020.

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While recent news from Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca on the efficacy of their respective COVID vaccines is encouraging, it has also given rise to bidding wars between wealthy countries trying to secure the largest supply of the new drugs for their citizens. Meanwhile, many governments in emerging market economies, where healthcare infrastructure is generally weaker, are worried they'll be kicked to the back of the line in the global distribution process. Indeed, history bears out their concerns: while a lifesaving HIV treatment hit shelves in the West in the mid-1990s, for example, it took years to become widely in Africa, which saw some of the worst HIV outbreaks in the world. But here's the catch: even if wealthy countries manage to obtain large supplies of vaccines to immunize their populations, the interconnected nature of the global economy means that no one will really be out of the woods until we all are. Here's a snapshot of how many COVID vaccines select countries have already purchased.

Afghanistan's small breakthrough: For months, disagreements over a range of political issues have hamstrung the intra-Afghan peace talks brokered by the Trump administration that aim to bridge the years-long conflict between the Afghan government and the Taliban. But this week, a significant breakthrough was made on the principles and procedures governing the talks, that, experts say, will help push negotiations to the next phase. One key advance is agreement on the official name of the Afghan government, an issue that stalled talks earlier this year. Still, progress is fragile. Taliban violence and efforts to seize territory have only increased since the militants and the US reached a deal in February on a blueprint for an American troop withdrawal. And the Trump administration says it aims to pull out all but 2,500 US troops by mid-January, whether the Taliban have kept their end of the deal or not. What's more, while this week's development puts the parties one step closer to an eventual power-sharing agreement, it's unclear whether the incoming Biden administration will even honor the Trump administration's deal with the Taliban.

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Two weeks ago, Russia secured a deal to build a naval base in Sudan, its first new military facility in Africa since the end of the Cold War. The accord is a major milestone in Moscow's wider push to regain influence, and income, on a continent where the Kremlin was once a major player.

But with the ideological and military contests of the Cold War long over, what is Moscow doing in Africa today?

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Reasons for Hope: COVID and the Coming Year. Watch on Friday. Dec 4 2020 12 noon - 1 pm ET

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