Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan said he regret that he missed the opportunity to “complete” what the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had started by opening up the murder of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi during the leaders’ conference of the G20 Summit in Buenos Aires on Nov 30-Dec 1.
In a press conference after the Summit Erdoğan said he “couldn’t believe” the answer of the Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman to Trudeau when he said it was wrong to accuse his country without any solid evidence. “We have submitted many documents to all security services of the countries who are interested in” Erdoğan said; “apparently it took 7.5 minutes for the murderers to strangle Khassoggi to death. His dead body couldn’t be found yet. This is a test case for the world.”
Khashoggi was killed in the Istanbul consulate of Saudi Arabia on Oct 2 where he went for bureaucratic proceedings on an appointment given 5 days earlier. A team of 18 Saudi officials, including the security adviser of the Crown prince, a ranking Saudi intelligence officer and a chief coroner were in Istanbul right before the murder and left the city right after it. Evidence collected by Turkish intelligence MİT, including recordings during the murder had triggered investigations of a number of security services including the CIA and the MI6.
Following the visit of the CIA Director Gina Haspel to Turkey where she met with MIT Director Hakan Fidan, American media wrote based on intelligence sources that it could be Salman who gave the order to kill the critical journalist who was writing for the Washington Post as well. Turkish Foreign Ministry lead by Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, as well as MİT work efficiently to unveil the case and made Saudis admit that Khasogghi was killed; Erdoğan repeatedly said that Turkey would never let the case go unaccounted. Actually it was Erdoğan’s persistence which triggered a number of political stances taken by Western countries to force Saudis to come up with solid evidence on the case, despite backing of the U.S. President Donald Trump; Germany, France, Britain and Canada were among them.
The G20 Summit was indeed a golden opportunity for Erdoğan to face off against the Crown Prince before all G20 leaders from Trump to, Russian President Vladimir Putin, from Emmanuel Macron of France to Xi Jinping of China and make the headlines the next day.
But it could be understood from his words to especially Turkish journalists escorting him during the visit that Erdoğan did not raise the issue until the end of the first session and it was Trudeau asking Salman the crucial question. “It should be up to us to complete the issue [after Salman’s answer to Trudeau]” Erdoğan said; “But the Chairman of the session [President of Argentine Mauricio Macri] gave the floor to Macron and said the debate would continue after the lunch.”
It seems, Erdoğan who had intervened to the moderator David Ingatius of the World Economic Forum panel discussion in Davos on Jan 29, 2009 with his famous “One minute!” remark and point finger to –then Israeli President Shimon Peres to say “When it comes to kill people you know well how to do it”, could not do the same to the Saudi Prince Mohammad bin Salman on Nov 30 in Buenos Aires. It seems Erdoğan missed the chance to raise the issue at the first place and then missed the chance to follow up when Trudeau did so.
Why Erdoğan couldn’t make the “One minute!” remark to the Saudi Crown Prince that he did to Israeli Prime Minister nearly ten years ago? We do not know that. Partly because none of the journalist Erdoğan hand-picked to escort him during the trip had asked him during the press conference; some of them did not even report what the President had frankly told them.