Erdogan hoping for positive outcome on Jamal Khashoggi case

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

The disappearance of a prominent critic of Saudi Arabia's rulers after entering the kingdom's Istanbul consulate risks severely tarnishing the reformist image of its de facto leader Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, experts say.

Yasin Aktay, who advises Erdogan in his ruling AK Party, also told Reuters that Turkish authorities believed a group of 15 Saudi nationals were "most certainly involved" in the matter, and added that statements by Saudi officials on the absence of camera records were not honest.

"God willing, we will not be faced with the situation we do not desire", he said.

"The initial assessment of the Turkish police is that Mr. Khashoggi has been killed at the consulate of Saudi Arabia in Istanbul", the official said.

Khashoggi's fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, said he first went to the consulate at September 28 to obtain a document related to their upcoming wedding and he returned Tuesday with concern he wouldn't be allowed to leave. "The consulate should make a clear explanation".

Turan Kışlakçı says they would "react" if Khashoggi was killed by Saudi officials and said he hoped the "conscience of the worldwide community would react too".

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Saudi Arabia, which ranks 169th out of 180 on the World Press Freedom Index issued by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), has launched a modernization campaign since Prince Mohammed's appointment as heir to the throne.

The Saudis praised "the brotherly Turkish government" for accepting a request to send a "security delegation of Saudi investigators" to assist in the inquiry into Khashoggi's disappearance.

Two days before entering the Saudi consulate in Turkey, Jamal Khashoggi appeared at Middle East Monitor's conference on the legacy of the Oslo Accords in London.

"My understanding is he entered and he got out after a few minutes or one hour", he said.

"I'm not sure. We are investigating this through the foreign ministry to see exactly what happened at that time", he added.

Despite the intense interest concerning Khashoggi's whereabouts, little concrete evidence has emerged so far.

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A Turkish official separately told The Associated Press that authorities believe Jamal Khashoggi was killed at the Saudi Consulate, while another said it was a "high probability".

The Chief Public Prosecutor's Office in Istanbul initiated an investigation on the day of the incident while the consulate also said on Twitter that it was working in coordination with Turkish authorities. The wedding was scheduled for Wednesday, a day after he disappeared in the consulate.

That relationship is already strained over several issues, including Turkey's support for Qatar in the blockade by Saudi Arabia; its closeness to the Muslim Brotherhood - blacklisted by Riyadh as a terrorist organisation; and its rapprochement with Saudi Arabia's arch-rival Iran. "Their foreign policy is based on a single doctrine: establishing the supremacy of Saudi Arabia in order to make it the sole arbiter of Arab affairs and the main point of entry for all worldwide powers into the region", wrote Madawi al-Rasheed, a Britain-based academic and critic of the Saudi government, in a new collection of essays on the kingdom.

"If this is true - that the Saudis lured a US resident into their consulate and murdered him - it should represent a fundamental break in our relationship with Saudi Arabia", Murphy wrote on Twitter. In the past year, Khashoggi was living in exile in Washington, DC and wrote for The Washington Post. "The country has stepped up its repression of critical journalists in the past year at home".

"We are hoping against hope that Mr Khashoggi is unharmed and will soon return to his writing desk", the Post said.

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