Jamal Khashoggi: A different sort of Saudi | Middle East Eye
This is the darkest day of my time as editor of Middle East Eye. It should not be. Jamal Khashoggi is not the first Saudi exile to be killed. No one today remembers Nassir al-Sa’id, who disappeared from Beirut in 1979 and has never been seen since.
Prince Sultan bin Turki was kidnapped from Geneva in 2003. Prince Turki bin Bandar Al Saud, who applied for asylum in France and disappeared in 2015. Maj Gen Ali al-Qahtani, an officer in the Saudi National Guard, who died while still in custody, showed signs of abuse including a neck that appeared twisted and a badly swollen body. And there are many, many others.
Thousands languish in jail. Human rights activists branded as terrorists are on death row on charges that Human Rights Watch says “do not resemble recognised crimes”. I know of one business leader who was strung upside down, naked and tortured. Nothing has been heard of him since. In Saudi, you are one social media post away from death.
A Saudi plane dropped a US-made bomb on a school bus in Yemen killing 40 boys and 11 adults on a school trip. Death is delivered by remote control, but no Western ally or arms supplier of Saudi demands an explanation. No contracts are lost. No stock market will decline the mouth-watering prospect of the largest initial public offering in history. What difference does one more dead Saudi make?
As a journalist he hated humbug. The motto in Arabic on his Twitter page roughly translates as: “Say what you have to say and walk away.”
And yet Khashoggi’s death is different. It’s right up close. One minute he is sitting across the table at breakfast, in a creased shirt, apologising in his mumbled, staccato English for giving you his cold. The next minute, a Turkish government contact tells you what they did to his body inside the consulate in Istanbul.