GP Insights

GP Insights # 162, 5 October 2019

First Death Anniversary of Khashoggi: It is business as usual
Harini Madhusudan

What happened?
On 2 October, there were a few demonstrations across the world on Jamal Khashoggi's first death anniversary. A year earlier, he walked into Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul to get papers for his wedding with his Turkish fiancé. He has not been seen since, nor his body discovered. Khashoggi's death was revealed weeks after,  leading to international protests against Prince Salman.

Khashoggi's fiance was protesting in Istanbul. A group of protesters rallied in central London, shouting slogans against MBS and demanding "Justice for Jamal Khashoggi." 
 
What is the background?
Jamal Khashoggi was a Washington Post contributor from a prominent Saudi family. He was a staunch critic of the Saudi government; earlier, he was a confidante of House of the Saud. He walked into the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on 2 October 2018. After days of confusion and chaos, it was announced that agents of the Saudi government killed Khashoggi inside the consulate and dismembered his body.

A hundred-page UN report was published on June 2019. It concluded that Khashoggi's death, "constituted an extrajudicial killing for which the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is responsible." Agnes Callamard, the extrajudicial investigator for the UN, consider that there is credible evidence, warranting further investigation of high-level Saudi officials' individual liability, including the Crown Prince.
 
What does it mean?
The killing of Khashoggi is a highly political event. Germany, Finland and Denmark continue to ban sales to Saudi Arabia. Khashoggi killing stands out as the most brazen contemporary attempt to silence a prominent government critic and to discourage further dissent. It became a black mark on the reputation of MBS, Jamal Khashoggi's death will always be associated with him; a taint on the 'progressive' image of the Saudi Prince. 

However, one year later, the strong opposition to Saudi has all but died out. Trump stated publicly, "Maybe he did, maybe he didn't," and continued the arms sales to Saudi after a ban of a couple of months. However, the world has moved on, and the Khashoggi's death will be forgotten. Politics and economy will result in countries and institutions continuing to interact with Saudi Arabia. 

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