Tuesday 23, October 2018 by Bloomberg

Erdogan shreds Saudi story of critic's murder


There’s one person Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan didn’t specifically mention in his big “naked truth” speech: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The Turkish leader laid out damning facts related to the 2 October murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, rejecting the Saudi version of events and asking leading questions, including about the location of the body. Erdogan said all indications are that what he called a “political killing” was planned and carried out by a team sent to Istanbul to murder the Washington Post columnist.

“Covering up such an atrocity will harm the conscience of all humanity,” Erdogan told his ruling party in Ankara. He called on King Salman to hold all culprits to account, “from the highest to the lowest level.” Turkey will pursue the investigation to the end, Erdogan said.

Those comments suggest that while Erdogan may be giving the Saudis a way out, he’s also leaving the door open to link the crime to the 33-year-old Crown Prince, known as MBS.

Strategic media leaks by anonymous officials have implied that Erdogan has audio recordings he’s using to extract concessions from the deep pocketed Saudis, while also sending a message to the West that Saudi Arabia, under the de facto rule of MBS, is far from a reliable partner.

As Benjamin Harvey writes, Erdogan is trying to turn the case into a catalyst for changing the balance of power in Saudi Arabia and regaining influence across the Middle East.

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