Pakistan hopes Turkey, Saudi Arabia will jointly probe Khashoggi's disappearance

Updated October 15, 2018

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US resident and <em>Washington Post</em> columnist Jamal Khashoggi. — File
US resident and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. — File

The Foreign Office (FO) on Monday said that Pakistan hopes that both Turkey and Saudi Arabia will jointly probe the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Khashoggi, a US resident and The Washington Post columnist critical of Riyadh’s policies, disappeared on Oct 2 after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Turkey believes he was murdered in the building and his body removed. Saudi Arabia has denied the accusations.

FO Spokesperson Dr Muhammad Faisal, while responding to a question about the journalist's disappearance, said: "We understand that the investigation is ongoing and it would therefore be appropriate to await its outcome."

Pakistan, which enjoys friendly relations with both Turkey and the kingdom, welcomed Saudi and Turkish efforts to resolve the issue.

According to Arab News, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has praised the Turkish-Saudi initiative of forming a joint working group and bringing together specialists from both countries to investigate the circumstances of Khashoggi’s disappearance.

"The two countries are capable of presenting a model of bilateral cooperation in the most difficult circumstances, as well as the means to produce results that translate into their good intentions and the depth of good inherent in their leadership," OIC Secretary General Dr. Yousef Al Othaimeen said.

Meanwhile, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt, Lebanon, Oman, Palestine, Jordan and Yemen have all come out in support of Saudi Arabia, Arab News reported on Monday.

Late Sunday, Saudi King Salman spoke by telephone with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan about Khashoggi. Turkey said Erdogan “stressed the forming of a joint working group to probe the case". Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, said King Salman thanked Erdogan “for welcoming the kingdom’s proposal” for forming the working group.

The king also said Turkey and Saudi Arabia enjoy close relations and “that no one will get to undermine the strength of this relationship”, according to a statement on the state-run Saudi Press Agency. While Turkey and the kingdom differ on political issues, Saudi investments are a crucial lifeline for Ankara amid trouble with its national currency, the Turkish lira.

Saudi media backs state

On Saturday, US President Donald Trump had threatened “severe punishment” if it turned out that Khashoggi was killed in the consulate, though he said Washington would be "punishing" itself if it halted military sales to Riyadh. The next day, Saudi Arabia warned that if it “receives any action, it will respond with greater action, and that the kingdom’s economy has an influential and vital role in the global economy”.

The statement did not elaborate.

However, a column published in English a short time later by the general manager of the Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya satellite news network suggested Saudi Arabia could use its oil production as a weapon. Benchmark Brent crude is trading at around $80 a barrel, and Trump has criticised OPEC and Saudi Arabia over rising prices.

Saudi media followed on from that statement in television broadcasts and newspaper front pages on Monday.

The Arabic-language daily Okaz wrote a headline on Monday in English warning: “Don’t Test Our Patience”. It showed a clenched fist made of a crowd of people in the country’s green color.

The Saudi Gazette trumpeted: “Enough Is Enough” while the Arab News said: “Saudi Arabia ‘will not be bullied".

The Arab News’ headline was above a front-page editorial by Dubai-based real-estate tycoon Khalaf al-Habtoor, calling on Gulf Arab nations to boycott international firms now backing out of a planned economic summit in Riyadh later this month.

“Together we must prove we will not be bullied or else, mark my words, once they have finished kicking the kingdom, we will be next in line,” al-Habtoor said.

Already, international business leaders are pulling out of the kingdom’s upcoming investment forum, a high-profile event known as “Davos in the Desert”. They include the CEO of Uber, a company in which Saudi Arabia has invested billions of dollars; billionaire Richard Branson; JPMorgan Chase & Co. Chief Executive Jamie Dimon; and Ford Motor Co. Executive Chairman Bill Ford.

News that the CEO of Uber, Dara Khosrowshahi, would pull out of the conference drew angry responses across the region. The foreign minister of the neighboring island kingdom of Bahrain, Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, tweeted Sunday night that there should be a boycott of the ride-hailing app both there and in Saudi Arabia.