Skip to main content
Canada’s most-awarded newsroom for a reason
Enjoy unlimited digital access
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
Canada’s most-awarded newsroom for a reason
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
// //

In this Feb. 1, 2015 file photo, journalist Jamal Khashoggi speaks during a news conference in Manama, Bahrain

Hasan Jamali/The Associated Press

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the Trump administration is revoking the visas of some Saudi officials implicated in the death of writer Jamal Khashoggi.

Mr. Pompeo announced the step at a State Department news conference on Tuesday. The visa revocations are the first punitive measures taken by the administration against the Saudis since Mr. Khashoggi disappeared after entering the consulate on Oct. 2.

Visa records are considered confidential and Mr. Pompeo did not say which or how many Saudi officials would have their visas revoked. Saudi authorities have detained 18 people in connection with Mr. Khashoggi’s death, which officials say was accidental despite Turkish allegations that Mr. Khashoggi was intentionally killed.

Story continues below advertisement

Earlier, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Saudi Arabia must identify those who ordered the murder of Mr. Khashoggi and turn over the suspects for trial in remarks that carefully ratcheted up pressure on a country that is a source of investment for Turkey, but also a rival for influence in the Middle East.

Mr. Erdogan delivered a sharp rebuttal of Saudi Arabia’s widely criticized account that the writer for The Washington Post died accidentally in a brawl, saying Saudi officials had planned the killing for days.

Some analysts believe Turkey is also calculating whether it can capitalize on outrage over the killing to extract political capital from the world’s largest oil exporter without alienating it altogether.

Related: Canada willing to freeze armoured vehicle exports to Saudi Arabia, Trudeau says

Read more: Who killed Jamal Khashoggi and why? Here’s what we know so far

Addressing ruling party lawmakers in parliament, Mr. Erdogan used the word “murder” 15 times to describe Mr. Khashoggi’s death after the writer entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2 for paperwork related to his marriage plans.

Mr. Erdogan also cast Turkey in the role of global statesman, echoing calls for full Saudi accountability from Western allies whose relationships with the Turkish government have often been edgy in the past.

Story continues below advertisement

“To blame such an incident on a handful of security and intelligence members would not satisfy us or the international community,” he said. Earlier, Turkey’s Foreign Minister said it would co-operate with any international or United Nations probe into the killing, a nod to transparency that only seemed to accentuate an emerging pariah status for Saudi Arabia.

“Turkey is playing the long game. And today’s speech is part of a very careful – in my opinion – escalation strategy,” said Ahmet Kasim Han, an international relations analyst at Altinbas University in Istanbul.

“Turkish authorities seem to be concentrated on turning this into a multilateral issue” because they don’t want “to be left alone with Saudi Arabia on all of this,” he said.

Maha Yahya, director of the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut, speculated that Saudi Arabia could now be vulnerable to pressure, including from the United States, to end a boycott of Turkey-backed Qatar.

“As far as Erdogan is concerned, he will use this incident to try and get as much mileage and concessions out of it, to the advantage of Turkey, as he possibly can,” Ms. Yahya said.

Mr. Erdogan focused on the investigation in his speech, saying he wants the 18 suspects detained by Saudi Arabia in the killing to face trial in Turkish courts, a demand the kingdom will probably resist. Saudi Arabia has said it will punish those involved and has described the suspects as rogue operators, even though officials linked to Saudi Arabia’s assertive Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman have been implicated.

Story continues below advertisement

Although he didn’t mention Prince Mohammed, Erdogan likely knows that the kingdom’s major decisions always require the approval of those at the top of the ruling Al Saud family.

“As of now, we expect of them to openly bring to light those responsible – from the highest ranked to the lowest – and to bring them to justice,” the Turkish President said.

Mr. Han, the Istanbul analyst, said Mr. Erdogan is moving cautiously, wary that Prince Mohammed might stay in control despite the scandal or could succumb to pressure over the Khashoggi killing and relinquish power. The latter outcome would benefit Turkey because the crown prince “is consciously and continuously pursuing strategies that work against Turkey,” Mr. Han said.

Modern tensions between the two countries date to the Arab Spring uprisings in 2011. Turkey supported some political Islamists who rose to power, but Saudi Arabia and its ally, the United Arab Emirates, viewed the pan-Arab Sunni movement as a threat to their hereditarily ruled countries.

Another opportunity emerging from the fallout over Mr. Khashoggi’s death could be an improvement in ties with the United States after Washington imposed sanctions on Ankara over the jailing of a U.S. pastor, said Marc Pierini, a former European Union diplomat to Turkey.

At an event hosted by The Washington Post, U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence said Mr. Khashoggi’s death was a “brutal murder” and “will not go without an American response.”

Story continues below advertisement

He declined to say whether he had seen any intelligence linking the Crown Prince to the killing, noting that CIA director Gina Haspel was in Turkey, and added: “I know that when the CIA director returns, she will be briefing the President, myself and our entire team on what the Turks have assembled.”

President Donald Trump has said he’s not satisfied with the explanations he’s heard from Saudi Arabia, seen as a key ally in U.S. efforts to isolate Iran.

Speaking to reporters at the White House, Mr. Trump said the entire operation was a fiasco.

“They had a very bad original concept,” Mr. Trump said. “It was carried out poorly, and the cover-up was one of the worst cover-ups in the history of cover-ups. Somebody really messed up, and they had the worst cover-up ever.”

The foreign ministers of the Group of Seven said Saudi Arabia should conduct a credible investigation, “in full collaboration with the Turkish authorities.”

Confirming reports and leaks from anonymous officials in past days, Mr. Erdogan said 15 Saudi officials arrived in Istanbul shortly before Mr. Khashoggi’s death and that a man, apparently dressed in the writer’s clothes, acted as a possible decoy by walking out of the consulate on the day of the disappearance.

Story continues below advertisement

“Why did these 15 people all with links to the event gather in Istanbul on the day of the murder? We are seeking answers. Who did these people get their orders from to go there? We are seeking answers,” Mr. Erdogan said. “When the murder is so clear, why were so many inconsistent statements made? Why is the body of a person who has officially been accepted as killed still not around?”

Turkish investigators, meanwhile, inspected a car belonging to the consulate and found three suitcases, a laptop computer and clothes inside, state television TRT reported. Authorities discovered the car at an underground garage on Monday.

In Riyadh on Tuesday, King Salman and Prince Mohammed received Mr. Khashoggi’s son, Salah, and his brother, Sahel, at the Yamama Palace, where the royals expressed their condolences. A friend of the Khashoggi family told the Associated Press that Salah has been under a travel ban since last year. The individual spoke on condition of anonymity, fearing reprisal.

At a cabinet meeting, King Salman again stressed those responsible for Mr. Khashoggi’s slaying would be held “accountable,” according to the state-run Saudi Press Agency.

Also Tuesday, the Crown Prince attended an investment forum alongside King Abdullah II of Jordan. Prince Mohammed sat in on an afternoon session and looked at some promotional booths outside the main hall as an excited crowd of mostly young Saudi men recorded the encounter on their phones.

Many Western executives and officials skipped the conference because of the killing.

Story continues below advertisement

At its opening, Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih described Mr. Khashoggi’s slaying as “abhorrent.”

“As we all know, these are difficult days for us in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” he said. “Nobody in the kingdom can justify it or explain it. From the leadership on down, we’re very upset of what has happened.”

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies