Was Jamal Khashoggi Planning To Return To Saudi Arabia And Speak On Past Links To Qatar, Turkey’s Ruling Party, And Muslim Brotherhood?
The story of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi is intertwined with Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, Qatar, and Turkey’s ruling AK Party.
It could be another chapter in the of spate of unexplained assassinations in Turkey since 2015.
No story symbolizes Middle East’s dirty politics right now more than Kashoggi’s fate, which is not confirmed yet.
Turkey and the western media are convinced he was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. No less than President Erdogan of Turkey has come out in Kashoggi’s support. Turkish Police is unofficially leaking to the media that Khashoggi was “dismembered” by a 15-member Saudi death squad that smuggled him out in pieces.
But then there’s also this: Khashoggi was killed when he planned to end his opposition to King Salman, end his self-imposed exile, and return home.
In the days before the incident, he changed his tone on the Saudi government.
One day before his disappearance, a Saudi user asked him on Twitter: “Your tone has changed, have you become soft on Saudi Arabia?”
Khashoggi replied: “Dear Abdullah, it’s my home and my people..”.
Saudi Arabia is convinced Khashoggi was about to divulge information on links between Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, Turkey’s ruling AK Party, Qatar and underground Brotherhood cells inside Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Prince Khalid bin Abdullah Al Saud wrote this in a tweet: “Khashoggi wanted to return home, they became scared he would expose them, so Qatar rulers eliminated him.”
Kashoggi, 59, was planning to marry his Turkish girlfriend. He was close to the Saudi royal family during the days when the kingdom was divided into power centers under the various branches of the royal family. After taking over, King Salman eliminated power centers within the House of Saud to stabilize the country, bring young royals forward and simplify succession.
Khashoggi was among those who chose to support an opposing faction within the royal family. It was the wrong gamble. Kashoggi played his cards for a year until the dust settled in the kingdom. The game was over. Khashoggi had been close to the royal family for too long and understood this better than others. In less than a year after leaving for Turkey and then Washington, Khashoggi apparently reconciled with the Saudi government in recent days. He probably discovered that the royal factions that supported him had long reconciled, and probably urged him to do so too.
Then there is his links to Muslim Brotherhood.
Khashoggi was aligned to factions within Saudi Arabia that supported the Muslim Brotherhood, the first Islamist political party in the region. The MB started in Egypt but now has extensions in the Gulf, Turkey, Tunisia, Syria, Pakistan and Indonesia. The main ideologue of the Muslim Brotherhood these days, Sheikh Yousef Al-Qaradawi, an Egyptian, is based in Qatar. When the MB factions in Egypt and Gaza established links recently to Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp, or the IRGC, Khamenei’s powerful sectarian force in Iran, the Gulf states, Egypt and Jordan saw it as a threat. Clerics-led Iran was meddling in Arab countries. This meddling could increase manifold if the Brotherhood joined hands with Iran. And the Brotherhood wanted patrons, money and arms to topple governments and seize power, like it did in Egypt.
Gulf capitals were convinced that the MB was a tool to disintegrate Egypt along the lines of Libya and Syria. If Egypt fell, Gulf states would be next. Hence, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Kuwait led the Gulf effort of supporting Egypt and cracking down on MB in the region. In the new Gulf military doctrine, fighting religious extremism was essential to avoiding state collapse as seen in some other Muslim countries, and MB is considered to be a secretive organization that operates parallel to the state.
This doctrine was among the main reasons that led to conflict with Qatar after Doha had become home to exiled MB leaders from Egypt, Gaza, Yemen, Libya and Syria.
The AK Parti in Turkey, led by President Erdogan, is widely considered to be the Turkish branch of Muslim Brotherhood, though more modern and westernized to make it different than any MB group in any other Muslim nation.
When Khashoggi first escaped Saudi Arabia, Ankara was his first refuge, and President Erdogan protected Khashoggi but advised him to move elsewhere to avoid a rupture in ties between Saudi Arabia and Turkey, Muslim world’s two major powers. After all, Riyadh helped Erdogan arrest Turkish diplomats involved in the failed coup attempt against the Turkish president.
When rebelled against King Salman, Khashoggi initially received strong support from the Brotherhood and Qatar. He became the darling of anyone who opposed King Salman and the kingdom in general, within and outside the region.
Saudis believe someone did not want Khashoggi to return to Riyadh with all the secrets he carried.
In the last three years, Turkey has seen a spate of unexplained assassinations of political dissidents wanted in other countries.
In 2015, a Syrian rebel film director opposed to Assad and ISIS was gunned down in Turkey days before moving to France with him family.
In 2016, a Turkish police officer assassinated the ambassador of Russia.
In 2017, a prominent Iranian television channel owner opposed to Iran’s Khamenei was assassinated in Istanbul, along with his Kuwaiti partner.
And a year ago, a female Syrian-American journalist and her mother were assassinated in Istanbul.
The Turkish police officer was dubbed a rogue agent. None of the above cases were resolved.
Khashoggi is no ordinary journalist or dissident. He insisted in all his interviews he did not oppose the Saudi royal family. He was the cousin of Saudi billionaire Adnan Khashoggi. Princess Diana’s lover Dodi Fayed was his nephew. He was practically part of the Saudi aristocracy, somewhat like the Bin Laden family and their notorious rebel son: Osama.
Did Khashoggi know too much? Is he really kidnapped and alive in Riyadh? Or was he eliminated because he decided to return home?
The real life version of Murder on the Orient Express is playing out in Istanbul.