Saudi Arabia has finally admitted that dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed at its consulate in Istanbul, after weeks of claiming he left the building unharmed. The kingdom now describes the “murder” as part of a rogue operation, although many of the suspects have ties to the crown prince and arrived by private jet (paywall). The kingdom now says the 59-year-old was killed by a chokehold.
US president Donald Trump has called Khashoggi’s apparent torture and dismembering “bad, bad stuff” and is threatening sanctions. The UK, France, and Germany want answers. But not everyone is as concerned. Many of Saudi Arabia’s neighbors are supporting it, as it searches for a credible explanation.
“Egypt sees that the brave and decisive decisions and actions taken by the Saudi King over this matter align with his majesty’s approach that respects the principles of law and applications of effective justice,” the country’s foreign ministry said. President Abdel al-Sisi, a former military general, has consolidated power and cracked down on journalists and social media (paywall) in the aftermath of the Arab Spring and subsequent events that saw Sisi overthrow a democratically elected leader.
The official news agency quoted the foreign-affairs ministry effusively praising the ”directives and decisions of Saudi King Salman on the issue of Khashoggi.” The Saudi kingdom and the federation of states that make up the UAE are so close that the Saudi national day is now part of the UAE calendar.
Kuwait has said the arrest of 18 men in Saudi Arabia over the death reflects the kingdom’s “keenness and commitment to establish the truth and its respect for legal principles to bring to account those behind this regretful event.” As part of a long history of close ties, Saudi Arabia took in the Kuwaiti royal family and 400,000 refugees when Iraq invaded in 1991, allowing the US and its allies to use its soil as a base for the Gulf War to liberate the country.
“Saudi Arabia will remain a state of justice, values and principles,” Bahrain said in an official statement to al-Arabiya TV, which is owned by Saudi Arabia. The Saudis intervened to prop up Bahrain’s government in 2011 in the aftermath of the Arab Spring. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the UAE are also about to provide $10 billion of financial support to Bahrain.