Turkey on Friday said that the US President Donald Trump intended to turn a “blind eye” to Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder after he said it would not affect Washington’s ties with Riyadh.
Trump’s backing of Saudi Arabia, his key ally against Iran, comes despite global outrage over the grisly October 2 killing that has tarnished the image of both the kingdom and its de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
“In one sense, Trump is saying ‘I will turn a blind eye’ no matter what happens,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in an interview with CNN Turk broadcaster.
“This is not the right approach. Money doesn’t mean everything,” Cavusoglu said, referring to Trump’s continued support for Saudi Arabia, which has committed billions of dollars in US weapons contracts.
Trump on Tuesday glossed over the Central Intelligence Agency’s reported conclusion that the crown prince had authorised the killing.
“Maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!” Trump said, implying Prince Mohammed’s culpability in Khashoggi’s killing in the Saudi mission in Istanbul.
Trump was widely pilloried for what critics called the mercantile priorities that made him appear more like a lobbyist for Riyadh.
A former Saudi royal insider who became a critic of the crown prince, Khashoggi was killed and dismembered in what Riyadh — after weeks of denial — said was a “rogue” operation.
The 59-year-old had gone there for documents he needed to marry his Turkish fiancee.
Saudi Arabia has held 21 people in custody over the murder but shielded the powerful crown prince.
Washington earlier this month placed sanctions on 17 Saudis, which also targeted the two top aides to the crown prince by freezing assets under US jurisdiction and forbidding US companies from doing business with them.