Turkish police enter Saudi consulate in Istanbul

Clay Curtis
October 18, 2018

President Donald Trump suggested Monday that "rogue killers" could be responsible for the mysterious disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, an explanation offering US ally Saudi Arabia a possible path out of a global diplomatic firestorm. The officials were not authorized to comment publicly on the matter and requested anonymity.

He said he didn't think any government officials should go to Saudi Arabia, including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin's planned trip to an economic conference October 23, "until we know exactly what happened here".

"The Board of Governors has chose to decline any funding from the Saudi government and to keep the matter under active review pending the outcome of the investigation into the case of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi", the group said Monday in a statement to BuzzFeed News.

Khashoggi's disappearance has caused worldwide furor and created a rift between the USA and Saudi Arabia. The decision to dispatch Pompeo signals how much the crisis over the fate of Khashoggi, a Saudi citizen and United States resident who wrote critically of the kingdom's leaders, is threatening to damage USSaudi relations. While lurid claims have appeared in Turkish media - including that Khashoggi was tortured and dismembered - Turkey's leadership has so far refrained from pointing the finger directly at Riyadh in public comments.

Three high-profile Wall Street CEOs reportedly attempted to persuade Saudi officials to push back Saudi Arabia's Future Investment Initiative conference.

It is not the first time that King Salman has sought to ease tensions surrounding the 33-year-old Prince Mohammed, who has been cultivated by the United States but whose reformist credentials are being quickly shredded by the mystery surrounding Khashoggi's fate.

Trump has threatened the kingdom with "severe punishment" if it is shown that Khashoggi was killed inside its Istanbul mission.

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But he has said repeatedly that he does not want to halt a proposed $110 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia - as some in Congress have said he should - because it would harm the USA economically.

Meanwhile, Arab countries expressed solidarity with Saudi Arabia amid growing criticisms that the kingdom has not been fully cooperating with Turkish investigators.

"The cheap political and media targeting of Saudi Arabia will not deter it from continuing its leading role in the Arab and Islamic worlds", the president said in a statement reported in Saudi media.

'He said it very strongly, ' Trump said when pressed to say whether he believed the Saudi king.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has always been pushing to move his country back into position as the recognized leader of the Islamic world. Surveillance footage captured him entering through the consulate's main entrance, but he was never seen leaving.

Saudi arch-rival Iran said on Monday it would adopt a wait-and-see approach to Khashoggi's disappearance. A Saudi delegation had entered the consulate one hour before the Turkish police arrived and appeared still to be inside as the search was conducted. For its part, Saudi Arabia has denied any wrongdoing, calling the murder accusations "baseless lies".

Business barons including British billionaire Richard Branson and Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi have pulled out of the event, dubbed "Davos in the desert", due to the Khashoggi scandal.

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