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    We Must Be Careful Whether to Say Saudi Journalist 'Is Alive or Not' - Scholar

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    Concerns are growing for the well-being of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi who was last seen entering the Saudi Arabian Consulate in Istanbul on Tuesday.

    His fiancee waited for him outside the consulate for 11 hours, but there was no sign of Khashoggi leaving, and he has not been seen or heard by anyone since. Khashoggi, a critic of the Saudi regime who had been living in self-imposed exile in America, had gone to the embassy to collect a document certifying that he was divorced, in order to marry his Turkish fiancee.

    Sputnik has discussed the issue with Kamel Hawwash, academic and writer on Middle Eastern affairs — whom he met a week ago.

    Sputnik: When you met Khashoggi a week ago did he seem afraid for his life?

    President Donald Trump meets with Saudi Defense Minister and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington
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    Kamel Hawwash: When I met Mr Khashoggi at the Middle East Monitor conference just over a week ago — I hadn't met him before — we exchanged good wishes; I chaired actually the session that he spoke at when he was speaking about the Oslo accords and their failure.

    And even in that, although he criticized the stance of the Saudis on what is called 'the deal of the century' he reported to the conference that the Saudi King had effectively taken back control of the issue related to Palestine and particularly about Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinian state.

    And he advised the Palestinians to take hold of their own fate, but of course they would be supported by other countries.

    Sputnik: Does Khashoggi really pose such a threat to the Saudi regime?

    Kamel Hawwash: Well, Jamal Khashoggi has been in self-imposed exile for the last few months, he moved to the United States and has been writing for the Washington Post.

    I think it was the fear that if he did had remained in the Kingdom he would either have to choose to be completely silent or if he did speak out he would face some danger.

    Sputnik: If the reports are correct, and it was a state authorized killing, which would the Saudis want to risk further damaging relations with Turkey by carrying it in Turkey?

    Kamel Hawwash: To be missing for a week having entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul having left 20 minutes later (according to the Saudis) raises lots of questions and people look back on a number of incidents when Saudi dissidents —fully fledged dissidents — have been arrested and taken back from different countries.

    So we have to be careful about whether the man is alive or not but clearly until the Saudis themselves present evidence that he left in embassy in one piece, suspicions will continue to be that a week afterwards that something must have befallen the man otherwise why hasn't he spoken out or been seen anywhere?

    Sputnik: Is it time for Saudi Arabia to be held to account for its human rights abuses; should the ICC get involved?

    Kamel Hawwash: Well I think even before we get that, clearly countries with very strong ties, relationships, that call themselves allies of Saudi Arabia have a role to play, especially the United States, the United Kingdom; countries that supply Saudi Arabia with weapons that are being used in the war in Yemen, for example, should be calling the ambassadors and asking for absolute clarity about what has happened to Khashoggi and different countries can then take their own action.

    And that would be much more immediate in my view than taking something to the ICC which would take quite a long time to materialize. So I do think that…But we know that whether it's the United States or the United kingdom or other countries who have been continuing to sell weapons to the Saudis despite clear atrocities which have been committed — including for example a bus in which 50 children were killed by a bombing — but there have been, they have not taken the right action in terms of saying 'we will stop supplying arms to Saudi Arabia because of this'. So the chances of them doing something for one individual — unfortunately there don't seem to be strong chances that they will.

    Views and opinions expressed in this article are those of Kamel Hawwash and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    Tags:
    investigation, missing, journalist, Saudi Arabian Consulate in Istanbul, Jamal Khashoggi, Kamel Hawwash, Saudi Arabia, Istanbul, Turkey
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