The phone call between Saudi King Salman and Turkish President Reccep Erdogan Sunday night, Oct. 14, was the first sign of a move to damp down the furor surrounding the Khashoggi case.
A source in the Turkish presidential office stated that the conversation between the two rulers centered on “the issue of shedding light on the case of Jamal Khashoggi [who disappeared after entering the Saudi Istanbul consulate on Oct 2.] He stressed “the importance of creating a joint working group within the framework of the investigation.” While the exact content of their conversation may never see the light of day, DEBKAfile’s sources find the fact of its having taken place to be revealing:
- King Salman, while declining to speak to US President Donald Trump on the issue, was ready to talk to the Turkish president with a view to putting the scandal to rest.
- The Saudi throne is keeping Washington out of the affair and contemplating downgrading ties, out of deep resentment for the administration’s failure to come to the kingdom’s aid at a time of trouble. In response to US mention of consequences if the Saudis were found guilty of murdering the journalist, Riyadh threatened: “The kingdom confirms that if any action is taken against it, it will respond to it by a greater action.”
- A likely deal between Riyadh and Ankara would have been engineered by the special royal emissary, Prince Khalid bin Faisal Al Saud, a skilled diplomat, who has been in Ankara since last Thursday, before it is referred to the top men for approval. A joint communique stating what can and cannot be established in the Khashoggi mystery is therefore to be expected shortly.
- This official communique will not lay bare everything known to Turkish and Saudi intelligence agencies; it will cover only the text endorsed jointly by Salman and Erdogan.
- After extinguishing the international furor over the Khashoggi case, that was actively fanned by Turkey, King Salman will turn to dealing with the unrest at home surrounding his son, Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman.
- The Turkish President will certainly have exacted from the Saudi monarch a price for laying the crisis to rest.
This story will be covered in depth in the weekly DEBKAfile TV show broadcast by ILTV later Monday, Oct. 15. Its ramifications will be discussed by our special guest, the noted American legal and political affairs television commentator Prof. Alan Dershowitz .