There is no doubt in Turkey's mind that Saudi Arabia ordered the slaughter of Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi, often a critic of the Saudi government. Khashoggi walked into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2 for marriage documents, and never emerged. There has since been audio released of the journalist's murder. He was reportedly not only killed, but his body had been dismembered.Turkey insists Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was behind the killing.
Yet, there is room for doubt in President Trump's mind. Last month he told reporters that the Crown Prince insisted he had nothing to do with the murder. On Tuesday, Trump was less sure about the Saudi government's involvement in the "vicious" killing, but still adamant that the U.S. will remain friends and "steadfast partners" with the Saudis.
“Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t,” Trump said of the Crown Prince's role in the murder. Trump insisted that if the U.S. cancels billions of dollars in arms sales to the Saudis, then those weapons would end up in the hands of Russia and China. He also reasoned that Saudi Arabia helps serve as a "counterbalance" to Iran and terrorism.
Turkey shot back on Wednesday.
Numan Kurtulmus, the deputy chairman of President Tayyip Erdogan’s AK Party, dismissed Trump’s assessment. “Yesterday’s statement is a comic statement,” he told state broadcaster TRT Haber.
“It is not possible for an intelligence agency such as the CIA, which even knows the color of the fur on the cat walking around the Saudi consulate’s garden ... to not know who gave this order,” he said. “This is not credible either for U.S. public opinion or the world public opinion.” (Reuters)
Some U.S. lawmakers are regretting the president's stance too.
I never thought I’d see the day a White House would moonlight as a public relations firm for the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. https://t.co/MQ4JsoQtqk— Senator Bob Corker (@SenBobCorker) November 20, 2018
Corker warned Trump that he and Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) sent him a second Global Magnitsky letter "requiring that he specifically determine whether Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman is responsible for Khashoggi's murder.
Under the law, the president is now required to determine whether MbS is responsible and report to our committee with a determination and a decision on the imposition of sanctions. Read our letter: pic.twitter.com/G9xFGyw4TH— Senator Bob Corker (@SenBobCorker) November 21, 2018