Questions surround Turkey’s endgame in Khashoggi case - Arab Weekly

It remains unclear what Turkey’s endgame is in the affair surrounding the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, with critics putting forth that Ankara may be trying to destabilise Saudi Arabia or draw other fringe benefits such as the extradition of cleric Fethullah Gülen, wrote Thomas Seibert in his column for the Arab Weekly.

Turkey has denied reports that it is trying to get the United States to extradite Gülen, a self-exiled cleric living in the United States who Ankara accuses of masterminding the July 2016 coup attempt  — in exchange for easing pressure on Saudi Arabia for the killing of Khashoggi. Ankara believes the 59-year-old Washington Post contributor, known for his criticism of the Saudi crown prince, was killed by an execution team sent from the Kingdom.

‘’The Erdogan government has been drop-feeding results of the investigation to media outlets to undermine Riyadh’s credibility and damage Saudi Arabia’s prestige in the Middle East, while improving Turkey’s own standing,’’ Seibert wrote, noting that this may be part of an effort to force out Saudi’s Crown Prince Mohammed, a known critic of Turkey.

Ankara may like to draw other fringe benefits from the crisis, the Arab Weekly columnist underlined.

’Erdogan has been asking Washington for Gulen’s extradition for years. Ankara says the 77-year-old was the puppetmaster behind a coup attempt against Erdogan in which 250 people died in 2016 but US officials have said the Turkish side has not presented sufficient evidence to convince courts to extradite Gulen,’’ Seibert said.

A senior Turkish official said the Gulen’s extradition and the Khashoggi investigation were separate issues and NBC reported U.S. administration officials inquired in October about ways to extradite Gülen.

The Turkish president has said in several speeches that the Khashoggi murder was ordered from the top-levels of the Saudi government and Erdoğan is likely find a boost in U.S. media reports on Nov. 16 that the CIA concluded the Saudi crown prince was behind Khashoggi’s killing, Seibert wrote.

“I doubt there’s anything you can offer Erdogan at this point that’s more valuable than what he has: His hands around MBS’s (and MBZ’s) neck,” the columnist quoted Iyad el-Baghdadi, the founder of the Kawaakibi Foundation, a liberal think-tank in Norway, as saying.

Riyadh maintains the Crown Prince Mohammed had nothing to do with the killing while the United States has announced sanctions targeting 17 Saudi officials implicated in killing of the Washington Post columnist.

Turkey has yet to reveal of its evidence contradicting the Saudi version, Seibert noted citing a Turkish newspaper, including an audio recording made shortly before the journalist was killed.
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