12:04 GMT03 March 2021
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    Khashoggi: Missing Journalist, Major Scandal

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    The disappearance of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi after he was last seen in his homeland’s consulate in Istanbul has led to a major geopolitical scandal with far-reaching implications.

    The American-based writer used to be a well-known and very well-connected figure in Saudi Arabia prior to falling out of favor with the royal family after purportedly taking sides in a factionalist dispute, which is why he fled to the US and has since been a fierce critic of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. Khashoggi, who is also close to the Turkish ruling establishment, was in Istanbul to obtain documentation that would allow him to marry his Turkish fiancé, but he reportedly never left the consulate, or at least might not have done so alive or even in one piece.

    The Turkish authorities believe that he was tortured, killed, and then dismembered inside of the consulate by a 15-member assassination team that national media reports coincidentally traveled to the country on that very same day, visited the diplomatic facility for a few hours, and then left Turkey before the end of the day. The Saudis vehemently deny these accusations, but that hasn't prevented other countries and even companies from turning up the heat on the Kingdom. Some politicians such as Marco Rubio hinted at sanctioning Riyadh over what happened, and Trump even vowed a "severe punishment" if it's proven that the Saudis killed their own citizen. On the economic front, some companies pulled out of a forthcoming investment conference in the Kingdom.

    The Saudis aren't taking any of this pressure laying down, however, and warned that they will retaliate against any measures imposed against them, ominously referencing their country's "influential and vital role in the global economy" in an unsettling message that some observers interpreted as a subtle threat to weaponize its energy exports in the event of sanctions. This might not just be speculative fear mongering either because the global energy industry is bracing for a jolt following the US' reimposition of sanctions against Iran early next month that might lead to a dearth of supply on the world market, one which could see fuel prices spike unless Saudi Arabia boosts its exports to compensate for the expected decrease in Iranian ones.

    Andrew Korybko is joined by Ali Syed, Political researcher/analyst based in Belgium, and Serap Balaman, Turkish political commentator.

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    Jamal Khashoggi, Turkey, US, Saudi Arabia
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