The Saga of Jamal Khashoggi, the Terrorist
Jamal Khashoggi, the privileged grandson of the physician to the 1st King of Saudi Arabia, and nephew of Adnan, the arms dealer and once know as the richest man in the world, a Turk by linage and a Saudi citizen by birth and educated in the US, wanted to set up a base in Turkey and rally the community of exiled Arabs there with the mission of undermining the Key regional influence of Saudi Arabia.
Mr. Khashoggi saw the growing Arabic community and Turkey’s emerging power in the region mirroring some aspects of the once powerful Ottoman Empire.
In that Empire, Istanbul was at the center of a rich and multicultural Middle East.
Over the past 20 years millions of Arabs fled their homelands because of wars or oppression, and Turkey became a fertile ground for dissidents with ideas of past grandeur.
Mr. Khashoggi who was exiled from Saudi Arabia in Y 2017 believed that might be able to pursue his own projects from Turkey, including setting up an anti-Kingdom social media network, a pro-democracy group, a media watch group, a forum to translate economic studies and launching online magazines.
He bought a home in Istanbul, Mr. Khashoggi was planning to marry his Turkish fiancee on 3 October just after he got his divorce from a prior marriage confirmed by the Saudi government that fateful day, 2 October.
Saturday, the world learned that he died in a ‘fist fight’ involving visiting Saudi officials, an account that has drawn widespread skepticism but that US President Trump avows.
Turkish media has declared that a Saudi hit squad traveled to Turkey to kill the sometime contributor to The Washington Post. The paper has called for an investigation led by a US-appointed panel to determine what happened.
Mr. Khashoggi’s untimely death sent a clear message to the many exiled Saudi Arabs who have taken refuge in Turkey.
Turkey has welcomed thousands of members of Egypt’s outlawed Muslim Brotherhood group since it was declared an international terrorists organization in Y 2013.
Further, Syrian groups opposed to President Bashar Assad have moved to neighboring Turkey, where nearly 3-M Syrians fled to escape the war at home.
Notably, Eiad Alhaji, a Syrian filmmaker who was working with Mr. Khashoggi, history buff, on a video about an Ottoman military figure central to Arab-Turkish relations, has described their time together saying in an interview: “We used to go together to sit and talk, 2 strangers outside our country and society, about what is happening with the Arabs in Turkey and in America. Me as a Syrian, and him as a Saudi Arabian. He was pained to be living in exile but at the same time, he was glad to be free in his opinion and new life.”
In his last interview with the media, Mr. Khashoggi declared his support for Turkey’s policy toward Syria, while criticizing Saudi Arabia’s stance.
As we have observed, Saudi Arabia has grown closer to President Trump’s policy on Syria, openly supporting Kurdish-led forces in eastern Syria that Turkey sees as a threat. Mr. Khashoggi criticized his country’s rift with Turkey, arguing that an alliance between the 2 regional powerhouses should come more naturally than a US-Saudi partnership.
With that public outlook Mr. Khashoggi, in self exile in the US with the WP editorial page as his platform, he was welcomed in Istanbul where President Erdogan and his party opened up to Arabs.
Turkey’s President has faced criticism for jailing and executing many dissidents and journalists during a crackdown after an attempted military coup in Y 2016.
Mr. Khashoggi’s ancestors lived in central Turkey, the name means spoon maker and its Turkish spelling is “Kasikci.” And that is how some in the MSM are calling him.
Mr. Alhaji, the filmmaker, said he was working with Mr. Khashoggi on a documentary on the life of Fakhreddine Pasha, the last Ottoman governor and military commander in al-Medina who defended the city in modern day Saudi Arabia against an Arab revolt during World War I.
The siege signaled the fall of the Ottoman Empire and the birth of new Arab states. Mr. Khashoggi’s family was displaced during the fighting and some fled to Izmir, in modern Turkey, including his grand father, some others went to Damascus.
The legacy of Fakhreddine, who fought against the birth of new nation states to preserve Ottoman influence, is a deeply divisive issue between Gulf Arab leaders and Turkey.
Last year, Gulf rulers, critical of Turkish President Erdogan, compared the 2, accusing Fakhreddine of robbing them of their heritage by taking manuscripts out of al-Madina to Istanbul when he left. Ankara, which sided with Qatar, responded by naming the street in Ankara of the Emirati embassy after Fakhreddine.
This frame is seen a turning point for the future of all Arab countries and Middle East, and Mr. Khashoggi’s mission was to convey that within their project.
And so it ended on 3 October in a fist fight.
Have a terrific weekend.