Turkey demands extradition of suspects, Saudi Arabia refuses. U.S. Defense Secretary Mattis warns of new instability in the region.
"We will get through this," says Saudi Foreign Minister Al-Jubeir Photo: Reuters
The dispute between Riyadh and Istanbul over the Khashoggi case continues as Saudi Arabia on Saturday rejected Turkey’s demand to extradite suspects arrested in connection with the journalist’s killing. They were Saudi citizens detained in Saudi Arabia, Riyadh’s Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said Saturday in Manama in justification. The U.S. government, meanwhile, warned that the crisis could threaten "regional stability" in the Middle East.
"They are detained in Saudi Arabia, the investigation is taking place in Saudi Arabia and they are being prosecuted in Saudi Arabia," al-Jubeir said during a conference in Bahrain’s capital that was also attended by U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and his German counterpart Ursula von der Leyen (CDU). "We will hold those responsible accountable. And we will develop mechanisms to make sure it doesn’t happen again," Riyadh’s foreign minister said.
Turkey on Friday had demanded the extradition of the 18 suspects arrested in connection with Jamal Khashoggi’s killing at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in early October. The Saudi Arabian journalist had been living in self-imposed exile in the U.S. since 2017 and had most recently been critical of the situation in his homeland in the Washington Post.
On Thursday, the Saudi Arabian prosecutor general’s office, citing the Turkish investigation, had for the first time described Khashoggi’s killing as a premeditated act. The version of the death officially circulated by Riyadh up to that point, after initial denials, said Khashoggi had died in a "fistfight" during a visit to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. However, this account has been strongly disputed internationally.
Turan Kislakci, head of the Saudi-Turkish Media Association.
"Merkel should ensure that arms trade from Germany and also from other countries in Europe with Saudi Arabia is stopped"
U.S. Defense Secretary Mattis warned at the Manama conference that "the murder of Jamal Khashoggi at a diplomatic compound must be of great concern to us all." Should a country fail to observe international norms and the rule of law, it "undermines regional stability," Mattis said.
The killing of the journalist has caused outrage around the world and is testing Riyadh’s relations with Washington and other Western nations. Al-Jubeir, however, vowed "we will get through this."
Discussion of arms embargo continues
Meanwhile, in Germany, the discussion about an arms embargo against Saudi Arabia continues. Speaking on Deutschlandfunk radio on Saturday, FDP Vice President Alexander Graf Lambsdorff welcomed the German government’s decision not to issue any licenses for arms exports to the Gulf kingdom for the time being. At the same time, he spoke out in favor of European standards in arms control. Talks on this process must "urgently begin," Lambsdorff said.
On Friday, differences of opinion between Berlin and Paris regarding arms exports to Saudi Arabia had come to light. While German Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) reiterated Germany’s position of a temporary arms embargo, French President Emmanuel Macron, with barely concealed criticism of Germany in this context, spoke of "pure demagogy" and called for a "European solution."
Meanwhile, the head of the Saudi-Turkish Media Association, Turan Kislakci, urged Germany and the EU to face "real consequences" in the Khashoggi case. "Merkel should ensure that the arms trade from Germany and also from other countries in Europe with Saudi Arabia is stopped," he told Bild newspaper.