Turkey Plans to Tap 40 Bln Lira ($6.6 Billion) from Central Bank Reserves

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Turkey Plans to Tap 40 Bln Lira from Central Bank Reserves

Monday, 13 May, 2019 – 11:00
A money changer counts Turkish lira banknotes at a currency exchange office in Istanbul, Turkey August 2, 2018. (Reuters)
Asharq Al-Awsat
Turkey’s Treasury ministry is working on legislation to transfer the central bank’s 40 billion lira ($6.6 billion) in legal reserves to the government’s budget to shore it up, three economic officials told Reuters.

The budget is deeper in deficit than expected, said the sources, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

It was unclear when or whether the draft law would reach parliament, however, though one of the sources said it would happen “soon.”

Turkey’s economy tipped into recession last year after the lira fell sharply. The currency is under pressure again, in part due to worries over the central bank’s depleted foreign exchange reserves, which would help it defend against another crisis.

Separate to foreign exchange reserves, “legal reserves” are what the central bank sets aside from profits by law to be used in extraordinary circumstances. At end-2018, they stood at 27.6 billion lira, according to the bank’s balance sheet data.

A second source with knowledge of the matter said last year’s “legal reserves” combined with this year’s amounted to the 40-billion lira figure, which was cited by all three people who spoke to Reuters.

“The Turkish central bank has around 40 billion lira in legal reserves. The transfer of this amount to the 2019 central administration budget was seen as suitable. This step aims at improving and strengthening the budget,” the second source said.

It remained unclear how much of the reserves would ultimately be transferred and what, if any, new requirements would apply to the central bank.

Central Bank and Treasury ministry officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

The transfer would mark the second recent move by Ankara to tap the central bank’s funds to boost its budget. In January, the bank transferred some 37 billion lira in profits to the Treasury three months earlier than scheduled.

“I do not remember the use of legal reserves before. This method came up to stop further deterioration of the budget,” the first source said.

“There needs to be a legislation to transfer the central bank’s legal reserves. The new legislation is planned to be presented to the parliament soon.” the source said.

Turkey’s budget recorded a 36.2 billion lira deficit in the first quarter of 2019, according to Treasury and Finance Ministry data. The deficit is expected to reach 80.6 billion lira by year end.

Erdogan Orders A Do-Over Election Because He Lost: Turkey; No Hint Of Democracy

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME.COM)

 

Turkey Orders a Do-Over of Istanbul Election Narrowly Won by Opposition

(ANKARA, Turkey) — Turkey’s top election authority voided the Istanbul mayoral election won by an opposition candidate and ordered a do-over, ruling Monday in favor of a request by the president’s party to throw out the vote it narrowly lost.

Opposition leaders said the Supreme Electoral Board’s decision to invalidate the results from Istanbul’s election raises concerns about President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s grip on power and Turkish democracy in general.

A top aide for Erdogan told The Associated Press that the voiding of the mayoral election in Turkey’s biggest city amounts to “a victory for Turkish democracy” by ensuring the results reflect the voters’ choice.

Ekrem Imamoglu of the opposition Republican People’s Party placed first by a slim margin in the March 31 mayoral election, defeating the ruling party candidate, former Prime Minister Binali Yildirim. Erdogan’s conservative and Islamic-based Justice and Development Party then charged that a series of election irregularities made the results illegitimate.

Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency said the Supreme Electoral Board revoked Imamoglu’s mandate and called a new election for June 23. As grounds to annul the March 31 results, the board said that some ballot station heads were not civil servants as required by law, the news agency said.

Yildirim, the loser in the election, said he hoped the decision would lead to “beneficial and beautiful results for Istanbul.”

In a statement to the AP, presidential communications director Fahrettin Altun said: “Having held free and fair elections for nearly seven decades, Turkey will complete this process in a transparent, lawful and orderly manner.”

Leaders of the Imamoglu’s main opposition party held an emergency meeting in the capital of Ankara late Monday.

Addressing thousands of his supporters in Istanbul, Imamoglu accused the electoral board of bowing to pressure and threats from Erdogan’s party. He vowed to use “democracy” to win back the “rights” that he said were taken away by force. The crowd called for the electoral board members to resign and accused Erdogan of stealing the vote.

Kati Piri, the European Parliament’s rapporteur on Turkey, said on Twitter: “This ends the credibility of democratic transition of power through elections in Turkey.”

Police set up barricades around the electoral board’s headquarters in Turkey’s capital, but there were no immediate signs of major demonstrations. Protesters banged pots and pans in several Istanbul neighborhoods, the opposition Birgun newspaper reported.

Howard Eissenstat, a Turkey expert at the nonprofit Project for Middle East Democracy and a Middle East history scholar at St. Lawrence University in New York, said Monday’s ruling “removes the last fig leaf of competitive elections” hiding the erosion of democracy in Turkey.

“Turkey wasn’t democratic yesterday and it’s not democratic today,” Eissenstat said.

He noted that Erdogan’s party previously invalidated election results in Turkey’s mostly Kurdish-populated regions after a pro-Kurdish party won and replaced elected mayors with government appointees.

“Erdogan cannot afford to lose in the second round. It would a disastrous display of weakness,” Eissenstat said.

The local elections held across Turkey on March 31 produced setbacks for the president. His party lost city hall in the capital as well as in Istanbul, ending 25 years of the Justice and Development Party and its Islamist predecessor governing both cities.

The loss of Istanbul, the country’s commercial and cultural capital, was particularly hard for Erdogan. He began his political ascent as Istanbul’s mayor.

At pre-election rallies, the president had repeatedly told crowds, “Whoever wins Istanbul, wins Turkey” and “Whoever loses Istanbul, loses Turkey.”

Istanbul, with its 15 million residents and strategic location straddling Europe and Asia, accounted for 31% of Turkey’s GDP of $851 billion in 2017 and draws millions of tourists.

The city government had a budget of $8.8 billion last year. The municipality has awarded lucrative contracts to businesses close to the government over the years and offers huge financial resources and employment opportunities.

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Turkey Says Not Distancing Itself From NATO With S-400 Deal

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Turkey Says Not Distancing Itself from NATO with S-400 Deal

Friday, 3 May, 2019 – 10:30
FILE PHOTO: A Lockheed Martin F-35 aircraft is seen at the ILA Air Show in Berlin, Germany, April 25, 2018. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt
Asharq Al-Awsat
Turkey is not distancing itself from the NATO alliance by buying Russian S-400 missile defense systems, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said on Friday, adding that Ankara should not be excluded from the F-35 jet project over the purchases.

Turkey and the United States, NATO allies, have been at odds over Ankara’s move to buy the Russian S-400s, which Washington says are not compatible with NATO systems and may threaten the Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jets, of which Turkey is a prospective buyer and partner in production, Reuters reported.

In an interview with broadcaster NTV, Akar said that excluding Turkey from the F-35 project would put “very serious” burdens on the other partners in the project.

“There is no clause saying ‘you will be excluded if you buy S-400s’ in this partnership. Excluding us just because any one country wants so would not be in line with justice, laws or rights. This should not happen,” Akar said, according to Reuters.

He said Turkey was trying to explain to the United States and other partners in the F-35 project that the S-400s would not pose a threat to the jets, and added that Ankara had taken measures to prevent that.

In his strongest challenge yet to warnings that Turkey may be removed from the F-35 project, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday that the project would collapse if Turkey did not participate.

While Washington has warned of potential US sanctions if Ankara pushed on with the S-400 agreement, Turkey has said it would not back down from the deal.

Instead, Turkey has proposed to form a working group with the United States to assess the impact of the S-400s, but says it has not yet received a response from US officials.

Akar said on Friday Turkey was still evaluating the latest US offer to sell Raytheon Co. Patriot systems, which he said was more positive than Washington’s previous offers.

Iran And Turkey Refuse To Classify Muslim Brotherhood As A Terrorist Organization

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Iran, Turkey Reject Trump’s Move to Classify Muslim Brotherhood as Terrorist Organization

Thursday, 2 May, 2019 – 10:30
US President Donald Trump meets with Egypt President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi at the White House in Washington, US, April 9, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Ankara – Cairo – Washington – Saeed Abdelrazek – Mohamed Nabil Helmy – Asharq Al-Awsat
Turkey and Iran on Wednesday criticized the United States over President Donald Trump’s attempt to classify the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization.

Ankara has rejected the US move, which the White House confirmed on Wednesday, saying it would promote “anti-Islamism” in the West and around the world.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, for his part, accused Washington of supporting terrorism in the region, stressing that Tehran opposed the inclusion of the “Muslim Brotherhood” on the US list of “terrorist organizations.”

“The US is not in position to (..) start naming others as terror organizations and we reject by any attempt by the US in this regard,” Zarif was quoted by Reuters as saying. “The US is supporting the biggest terrorist in the region, that is Israel,” he added.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said that Trump “has consulted with his national security team and leaders in the region who share his concern and this designation is working its way through the internal process.”

According to Reuters, the inclusion of the Muslim Brotherhood on the US list allows sanctions to be imposed on those who have relations with the group, which is classified as terrorist in a number of Arab countries.

The US announcement comes three weeks after Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s visit to Washington. According to the New York Times, which revealed information about Trump’s attempt to classify the Muslim Brotherhood, the president’s initiative faces strong objections, especially within the Pentagon.

Egypt did not officially comment on the US move against the Muslim Brotherhood, but members of the parliamentary foreign relations committee welcomed it.

The Egyptian authorities have classified the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist entity since December 2013, in the wake of a booby-trapped car explosion against a security directorate in an Egypt province, which killed 16 people.

Damascus, Tel Aviv Exchange ‘Goodwill’ Gestures

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Damascus, Tel Aviv Exchange ‘Goodwill’ Gestures

Sunday, 28 April, 2019 – 06:30
An Israeli soldier stands next to signs pointing out distances to different cities at an observation post in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. (Reuters)
Moscow, Beijing, London – Raed Jaber and Asharq Al-Awsat
A series of “goodwill gestures” emerged on Saturday between Damascus and Tel Aviv related to a prisoner exchange.

An Israeli official said Tel Aviv decided in the past few days to release two Syrian prisoners as a goodwill gesture after the return of the remains of Israeli soldier Zachary Baumel.

Baumel went missing during in a battle between Israeli and Syrian forces in Sultan Yaqub during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982. His remains were recovered by Russian forces in Syria and returned to Israel earlier this month.

A Syrian regime source told Reuters that authorities had pressured Moscow to secure the prisoners’ release after news emerged that the Israeli soldier’s remains were being handed over.

Israel’s Prison Service identified the two prisoners as Ahmed Khamis and Zidan Taweel.

Khamis, from a Palestinian refugee camp in Syria, was a member of the Palestinian Fatah group and was jailed in 2005 after he tried to infiltrate an Israeli military base in order to carry out an attack.

Taweel, from the Syrian Druze village of Hader, was jailed in 2008 for drug smuggling.

Meanwhile, Syria’s representative to the UN, Bashar al-Jaafari said on Saturday that “Turkey’s occupation is four times larger than Israel’s and that Turkey’s negative attitude to Syria is thus four times worst than Israel.”

He compared the Israeli occupation of the Syrian Golan Heights to Ankara’s “occupation” of Syrian territory in the North. He charged that Turkey was occupying some 6,000 kms of Syrian land, encompassing Afrin and Idlib.

He also accused it of constructing 70-km wall south of Manbij to separate it from Aleppo and imposing a Turkish curriculum at schools.

Turkey: Pointless for France to Remain in Syria to Protect YPG

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

 

Turkey: Pointless for France to Remain in Syria to Protect YPG

Wednesday, 26 December, 2018 – 10:45
French President Emmanuel Macron. (AFP)
London – Asharq Al-Awsat
Turkey warned France that it is pointless to maintain its military presence in Syria to protect the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).

“If France is staying to contribute to Syria’s future, great, but if they are doing this to protect the (militia), this will bring no benefit to anyone,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters according to state news agency Anadolu.

Cavusoglu hit out at France’s “support” of the YPG, which he said was “no secret”, pointing to a meeting French President Emmanuel Macron had held on Friday with the Syrian Democratic Council, the political wing of the US-backed Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces’ (SDF).

The YPG serves as the military backbone of the SDF.

Turkey views the YPG as terrorist organization affiliated to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The PKK is blacklisted as a terror group by Ankara, the US and the European Union.

France is part of the international anti-terrorism coalition led by the US in Syria and Iraq. It dispatched military pilots and artillery soldiers to carry out bombings. Several sources also reported the deployment of French special forces in Syrian territory, but Paris has not confirmed this information.

Last week, US President Donald Trump ordered the withdrawal of 2,000 US ground forces that had been in Syria to provide training to the YPG under the SDF.

The shock move put allies on the backfoot, with Macron on Sunday saying: “An ally must be reliable”.

On Sunday, Macron avoided commenting on the demands made by two representatives of the “Syrian Democratic Council” after Trump’s decision to withdraw US troops from Syria.

He summed up by the situation by announcing Paris “regrets” the US decision, given that the mission to terminate ISIS was not over yet, adding that the SDF should not be abandoned and allies should not be “left in the middle of the road.”

France confirmed it will remain in the alliance despite the US withdrawal.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said Ankara will intervene in the coming months against ISIS and the YPG.

Dec.14th, Trump Tells Turkey’s President Erdogan That Syria Is “All Yours”

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

US President Donald Trump told Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan the US was “done” with Syria as the pair discussed the possible withdrawal of US forces from the country.

Erdogan was explaining all the problems with the US presence in Iraq and Syria and was irritating Trump, according to a senior administration official who received a detailed readout of the phone call between both presidents.
“OK, it’s all yours. We are done,” Trump said, according to the source.
Erdogan made his case to Trump during the December 14 call that the US should pull out of Syria by pointing to the near-total defeat of ISIS in the country, according to a separate source familiar with the call. The President then sought assurances from Erdogan that Turkey would continue to fight ISIS and defeat the terrorist group.
A senior White House official said Erdogan gave Trump his “word” that Turkey would finish off ISIS.
“In the call on Friday, Erdogan said to the President, ‘In fact, as your friend, I give you my word in this,'” the senior White House official said.
Erdogan, for his part, described his conversation with Trump during a speech last Friday, saying he told Trump that he could clear Syria of ISIS.
“During a conversation I had with Mr. Trump — he said ‘ISIS, can you clear ISIS from this area?'” Erdogan recalled. “We did it before, and we can again as long as we have logistic support from you.”
“And so they began pulling out,” Erdogan said.
“Within the framework of the phone call we had with Mr. Trump, we have started preparing plans for operations to clear the ISIS elements still within Syria,” he continued.
The Associated Press first reported some details of the phone call.
Trump and Erdogan held a phone call again on Sunday where the two discussed the conflict in Syria, both nations said.
“I just had a long and productive call with President @RT_Erdogan of Turkey. We discussed ISIS, our mutual involvement in Syria, & the slow & highly coordinated pullout of U.S. troops from the area. After many years they are coming home. We also discussed heavily expanded Trade,” Trump tweeted.

Turkish Annual Inflation Falls 1.44% in November

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Turkish Annual Inflation Falls 1.44% in November

Monday, 3 December, 2018 – 11:00
Vendors arrange fruits and vegetables at a green grocery in central Istanbul, Turkey October 9, 2018. REUTERS/Murad Sezer
Istanbul- Asharq Al-Awsat
Turkey’s consumer price index fell 1.44 percent month-on-month in November, official data showed on Monday, bringing the annual inflation rate down from a 15-year high as a stronger lira, tax cuts, and discounted products helped to trim prices.

A plunge in the lira’s value fueled the inflation surge this year, triggering a massive central bank rate hike, but one analyst said the sudden downturn in prices now brought with it the risk of an early loosening in monetary policy.

As it grapples with high inflation, one of the main economic concerns for investors, the central bank has at the same time faced pressure from President Tayyip Erdogan, a self-described “enemy” of interest rates, to lower borrowing costs to spur growth.

Year-on-year, consumer inflation stood at 21.62 percent in November, data from the Turkish Statistical Institute showed. A Reuters poll forecast a 0.75 percent monthly decrease in November and annual inflation of 22.6 percent.

In its battle against inflation, Ankara has cut taxes on consumer products such as vehicles, furniture and white goods and encouraged shops to offer at least 10 percent discounts until the end of the year.

“Tax cuts for automotive, white goods and furniture sectors were the key factor bringing down inflation,” said Muammer Komurcuoglu of Is Investment. “We expect a limited increase in December inflation as the initial impact of tax cuts wane.”

Transportation prices slid 6.46 percent while food and non-alcoholic beverage prices fell 0.74 percent, the data showed. The producer price index fell 2.53 percent in November for an annual rise of 38.54 percent.

Stoked by the weak lira TRYTOM=D3, whose decline against the dollar this year peaked at 47 percent in August, inflation surged to 25.24 percent in October.

Finance Minister Berat Albayrak, Erdogan’s son-in-law, said the downward trend in inflation would continue.

“We will continue to carry forward the structural steps that we have started in the fight against inflation with all our ministries,” Albayrak said on Twitter.

The lira has recovered in recent months after a massive 6.25 percentage point rate hike in September and an improvement in relations with the United States. It was steady at 5.2 against the dollar on Monday, still down more than 26 percent this year.

Turkey’s economy is seen shrinking 1.4 percent in the fourth quarter and officially entering a recession – defined as two consecutive quarters of negative growth – in the first three months of 2019, a Reuters poll showed in October.

As the economy slows and inflation falls, prospects for further rate hikes are now off the table, said Jason Tuvey, senior emerging markets economist at Capital Economics.

“With political pressure on the central bank to loosen policy likely to mount, there’s a growing risk that policymakers decide to loosen policy even earlier, and more aggressively, than we currently anticipate,” he said.

Lindsey Graham: ‘Impossible to believe’ Saudi Crown Prince was unaware of Khashoggi killing

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NBC NEWS)

 

Lindsey Graham: ‘Impossible to believe’ Saudi Crown Prince was unaware of Khashoggi killing

“He is irrational, he is unhinged, and I think he has done a lot of damage” to the U.S.-Saudi relationship, Graham said.
Image: Lindsey Graham

Lindsey Graham speaks with Chuck Todd on Meet The Press on Nov. 18, 2018.NBC News

 / Updated 
By Kailani Koenig

WASHINGTON — Republican Senator Lindsey Graham on Sunday harshly condemned Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman over his alleged role in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, calling him “unhinged” and pointedly refusing to work with the prince in the future.

“The fact that he didn’t know about it is impossible for me to believe,” Graham said on Sunday’s “Meet The Press.” The South Carolina senator said he hasn’t been given an official briefing on the matter, but maintained that the conclusion that the crown prince had a role in Khashoggi’s murder should be clear to anyone with knowledge about the country.

“If he is going to be the face of Saudi Arabia going forward, I think the kingdom will have a hard time on the world stage,” Graham added. “They are an important ally, but when it comes to the crown prince, he is irrational, he is unhinged, and I think he has done a lot of damage to the relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia and I have no intention of working with him ever again.”

The United States announced sanctions this week against 17 Saudi Arabian officials over the killing of Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.

NBC News reported on Friday that the CIA has concluded that the crown prince himself ordered the assassination.

Graham said he doesn’t want to let the individuals who carried out the killing to become “the fall guy,” but instead, “I am going to do whatever I can to place blame where I believe it lies: I am going to put it at the feet of the crown prince who has been a destructive force in the Mideast.”

The senator noted that he previously had a lot of hope for the prince’s potential as a reformer in the region, but “that ship has sailed as far as Lindsey Graham is concerned.”

Graham’s language on Saudi Arabia stands in stark contrast to President Trump, who repeatedly told “Fox News Sunday” this weekend that the crown prince has continually denied involvement in the incident.

Asked whether the prince was lying, Trump responded, “he told me that he had nothing to do with it. He told me that, I would say, maybe five times at different points.”

The president also asked, “Will anybody really know? He did have certainly people that were reasonably close to him and close to him that were probably involved.”

On Sunday, Graham was asked about the bond between the crown prince, Trump, and Jared Kushner, and he said, “I’ll leave it up to the president to find out how to handle Saudi Arabia from the executive branch side.”

“From the legislative branch side, we’re going to do as much as we can, as hard as we can, to send a signal to the world,” he continued. “This is not how we expect an ally to act. What happened in Turkey violates every norm of civilized society and it will not stand. And if John McCain were alive today, he’d be the first one saying that.”

Graham also maintained that the Saudi ambassador to the U.S., the crown prince’s brother, Prince Khalid Bin Salman, should not be allowed back in to the United States as ambassador.

Also on “Meet The Press,” Graham publicly called on the president to move forward on the issue of criminal justice reform, asking him to “pick up the phone” and lobby Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to bring their bill on the issue to the floor.

“The Republicans are the problem here, not the Democrats,” Graham said.

Turkey gives recordings on Khashoggi’s death to Saudis, US, Britain

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Turkey gives recordings on Khashoggi’s death to Saudis, US, Britain — Erdogan

Istanbul, Turkey (CNN) Recordings related to Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s death have been passed on to Saudi Arabia, the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany and France, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Saturday.

Khashoggi was killed after he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2 to obtain paperwork for his marriage.
Speaking before his departure to Paris for World War I commemorations, Erdogan said: “We passed on the recordings. We gave them to Saudi Arabia, to America, to the Germans, French and the English — we gave them all.”
He did not elaborate on what was on the recordings.
Erdogan said the killer, or killers, would be known to the 18 suspects identified by Turkish authorities — including 15 men who arrived from Saudi Arabia shortly before Khashoggi’s death.
He again called on Saudi Arabia to provide answers as to what happened to Khashoggi and his body, which has not yet been found.
Erdogan has previously demanded that Saudi Arabia hand over the 18 suspects for prosecution in Turkey but the kingdom has insisted that those responsible for Khashoggi’s death will be tried in Saudi Arabia.
The Turkish chief prosecutor said 10 days ago that Khashoggi was strangled as soon as he entered the Saudi consulate, as part of a premeditated plan, and his body dismembered.
Sons of slain Saudi journalist speak to CNN

Erdogan’s confirmation that recordings relating to Khashoggi’s death have been handed to key international players is the latest in a drip-feed of details released by Turkey in the weeks since the journalist disappeared.
Revelations from the Turkish side have helped to keep up diplomatic pressure on Saudi Arabia to explain what happened.
US President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron both want to get “greater detail” about the events surrounding Khashoggi’s killing, a French presidential spokesman said following a meeting between the pair Saturday in Paris.
Both leaders agreed “something very serious happened — that this assassination was serious and unacceptable,” the spokesman said at a briefing on the bilateral talks.
However, neither leader wants to do anything that could destabilize Saudi Arabia, the spokesman said, adding that the United States considered Saudi Arabia to be the “cornerstone of everything in the Middle East.”
The leaders did not discuss what should happen to the culprits, the spokesman noted, describing it as an “internal Saudi matter.”
The Saudis have presented shifting stories about the journalist’s fate, initially denying any knowledge before arguing that a group of rogue operators, many of whom belong to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s inner circle, were responsible for Khashoggi’s death.
The Saudi attorney general then said the Turkish side had provided information indicating that the killing was premeditated. Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister and Energy Minister have both described Khashoggi’s death as “murder.”
Riyadh has maintained that neither bin Salman nor his father, King Salman, knew of the operation to target Khashoggi. US officials have said such a mission — including the 15 men sent from Riyadh — could not have been carried out without the authorization of bin Salman, the country’s de facto ruler.
After Saudi Arabia admitted that Khashoggi was killed in its Istanbul consulate, five high-ranking officials were dismissed, including bin Salman’s media chief and the deputy head of the Saudi intelligence service. Eighteen people were arrested.
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