The geopolitical imbroglio of Khashoggi affair: cynicism and deafening silences

© Khalid Gueddar

The murder, in horrendous conditions, of the journalist Jamal Kashoggi on October 2, still makes news around the world. A saga which makes audience, as often in our new world of information 24/24, not so much because a journalist has been murdered (which in the end is considered as a banality), but for the suspens’ aspect, of geopolitical thriller. Just like a nice TV series to taste without asking too many questions. Except for international organizations such as UNESCO or NGOs specialized as Reporters Without Borders(RSF) and the articles of some intellectuals, very few media go beyond the thriller aspect. Of course, it is important to know who ordered the murder of this journalist and why. Perhaps it could contribute stopping these growing threats to freedom of press and expression, to the fight against the drifts of political and mafia powers. However, beyond the aspect of elementary justice, many questions raise about this case and the way it is covered.

– How come this crime has been denounced by Turkey, a country well known for its very special vision (to say the least) of freedom of the press and respect of journalists, where President Erdogan has closed most opposition media, arrested more than 200 journalists and imprisoned more than 130, who uses Interpol to arrest the few who managed to escape and take refuge in other countries (see the post of Libex on April 26, February 5 and 16, September 30, 2017) ? Turkey is in 157th place out of 180 of the RSF press freedom ranking, Saudi Arabia at 169th.

– What is the motivation of Turkey? Obviously, this is to defend freedom of the press or the desire to punish a crime, but a geopolitical move. Turkey and Saudi Arabia – two major powers of the Middle East, both Sunni muslims, both allies of the USA (Turkey is also a member of NATO) – struggle for the domination of the Muslim world. Turkey relies on the tradition of the Ottoman Empire and its desire to create a political Islam, Saudi Arabia on black gold (it holds 25% of the world oil reserves) and its status as guardian of the sacred places of Islam. Destabilizing Saudi Arabia, decrying the pseudo modernity of the throne’s heir, Mohammed Bin Salman, are part of Turkey’s diplomatic strategy to attract American and occidental investment and support. Turkey, an illiberal democracy, is trying to get closer to the West, an indispensable move for a country hit by economic crisis, trying to improve its image to the detriment of Saudi Arabia, an absolute monarchy and an illiberal regime.

– In this context it is legitimate to ask why the Western media take films and images offered by the Turks without, before to show them, to fact and image-check to verify their authenticity (although some specialized sites have done so), without asking questions about the reasons of this Turkish activism.

– Still more legitimate is to ask why the Western media, in great majority, do not put this umpteenth assassination of journalist in its global context: 1010 journalists killed from 2006 to 2017, including 33.5% in the rich Arab oil and gas producers (26% in Asia and the Pacific, 22.9% in Latin America and the Caribbean, 11.6% in Africa, 4% in Central and Eastern Europe and 2.5% in Western Europe and North America – according to Unesco statistics), knowing that 9 out of 10 cases have not been resolved?

– Why do Western countries focus their attention on the Kashoggi case (which is horrible) and forget that freedom of press and expression is in grave danger (even in their own country) and do nothing to fight against the tyranny of the new rich or small tyrants. Does money, potential business, is killing any morality, and the fundamental values ​​of democracy? – Why not take advantage of this case to act in favor of the release of the 140 journalists detained in Turkey, of the 28 journalists imprisoned and frustrated in Saudi Arabia (including Raif Badawi sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1000 whiplashes)?

– Why is the trend in Western countries (primarily in the US, but also in Italy, Poland, Hungary, etc. to treat journalists as enemies and fuel hate against them is not reported and condemned?


2 NovemberInternational Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists 2018

In the past twelve years (2006-2017) close to 1010 journalists have been killed for reporting the news and bringing information to the public. On average, this constitutes one death every four days. In nine out of ten cases the killers go unpunished. Impunity leads to more killings and is often a symptom of worsening conflict and the breakdown of law and judicial systems. UNESCO is concerned that impunity damages whole societies by covering up serious human rights abuses, corruption, and crime. Governments, civil society, the media, and everyone concerned to uphold the rule of law are being asked to join in the global efforts to end impunity.

It is in recognition of the far-reaching consequences of impunity, especially of crimes against journalists, that the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution A/RES/68/163 (link is external)at its 68th session in 2013 which proclaimed 2 November as the ‘International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists’ (IDEI). The Resolution urged Member States to implement definite measures countering the present culture of impunity. The date was chosen in commemoration of the assassination of two French journalists in Mali on 2 November 2013.

To know More:

– Rapport 2016 de la Directrice générale sur la sécurité des journalistes et la question de l’impunité :
– Conference Unesco 2 November 2018 :

Rapport Unesco: “World trends in Freedom of expression and media developpement, Global report 2017/2018″:




Economist and historian, director of the Center LIBREXPRESSION, Foundation Giuseppe di Vagno

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