Saudi Arabia denies 'baseless' reports of Turkish ambassador's expulsion

Jamal Khashoggi's fianc

Khashoggi, a prominent Saudi journalist, vanished October 2 after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

It remains unclear how the Turkish government determined Khashoggi had been killed, but the conclusion the Saudi royal court ordered the hit could increase the pressure on both sides of the dispute, the Times reported.

But what about the US alliance with Saudi Arabia?

The US president told reporters on Monday: "Hopefully that will sort itself out". While it has always been apparent that common values are not shared by all American allies, can we still remain partners when journalists go missing, presumed murdered?

Writing as a columnist for the Washington Post, articles took aim at the country's conduct in Yemen's civil war, and the crushing of political dissent at home by heir apparent Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. Relations were already strained after Turkey sent troops to the Gulf state of Qatar past year in a show of support after its Gulf neighbors, including Saudi Arabia, imposed an embargo on Doha.

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However, according to media reports, Turkish officials are increasingly convinced that the Saudis killed Khashoggi.

Jamal Khashoggi went to the consulate last Tuesday to obtain a document certifying he had divorced his ex-wife, so that he could marry his Turkish fiancée, Hatice Cengiz.

Although Khashoggi knew that his opinions had angered certain people, he entered the consulate "without doubting he would be safe there", his fiancee wrote, but after three hours of waiting "fear and concern" overcame her.

The rights group Prisoners of Conscience, which is an independent non-governmental organization advocating human rights in Saudi Arabia, announced in a post on its official Twitter page that it did not dismiss the possibility that Khashoggi's sudden disappearance was an attempt to silence the writer. Among them was a forensics expert, it says. Turkey has said it will search the consulate for signs of what happened to Khashoggi, but has not said when it will do so.

But Khashoggi's fiancée is reportedly holding out hope, tweeting in Arabic late Saturday and translated by the Middle East Eye, "Jamal was not killed, and I don't believe that he was killed", the fiancée said.

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Mr Khashoggi was last seen visiting the consulate last week and Turkey says he may have been murdered there.

So the Turks are giving the Saudis a little breathing room to put forward their argument, while releasing bits of incriminating information to tighten the screws.

After Canada criticized Saudi arrest of human rights activists, the kingdom retaliated by expelling the Canadian ambassador, recalling its own envoy to Ottawa and freezing trade and investment between the two countries.

The two regional heavyweights and United States allies have engaged in a delicate balancing of shared interests and opposing positions, sometimes teaming up to oppose President Bashar Assad in the Syrian conflict, for example, while sparring over Saudi Arabia's campaign to isolate Qatar and its regional fight against political Islam. But this is not simply one side's word against the other. And while the authorities here are so far not providing evidence to back it up, it's inconceivable that such a claim would have been made without firm grounds.

The US resident has written articles over the past year in self-imposed exile that were critical of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The official said there is no hard evidence as to whether Khashoggi, a columnist for the Washington Post, is dead or alive.The source did not say when the U.S. became aware of the discussions.

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Turan Kislakci, the head of the Turkish-Arab Media Association, told The New York Times that Turkish officers did not see Khashoggi leave when they monitored their surveillance cameras.

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