Magis academicum, magis profectum



The killing and death pattern of Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi, which had a substantial regional and global explosion in October 2018, is still seen as an unfortunate case whose impact can always be felt today. The fact that the assassination’s clarification corresponded to a long period also affected the actors’ relations at the same rate. In this context, the USA and Saudi Arabia relations will be analyzed from the perspective of the Khashoggi assassination from the incident’s occurrence to the present.

Keywords: Jamal Khashoggi, Saudi Arabia, USA, Turkey


In Turkey, assassinated in her country’s consulate building, Khashoggi Jamal’s death, one of the Washington Post newspaper writer, Turkey and United States of America (USA) – Saudi Arabia has given rise to the formation of a triangle. The fact that he is recognized by the international public and a personality adopted by the intellectual group is the dominant factor in forming this triangle. Saudi Arabia, inconsistent descriptions of Management, Turkey has great importance in the supply to clarify the incident that occurred when opening. Although it has been over 18 days in the event of an acceptable explanation, it has increased the Saudi government’s pressure, which the US and Turkey Management. “Saudi officials announced on October 20,” Khashoggi lost his life as a result of the brawl that broke out in the consulate building, and the body was removed by local connections of the people who carried out this incident “(SETA, 2018). However, the obscurity of the evidence and the continuing contradictory explanations have lost the last statement’s convincing character. Turkey’s events in the current retention efforts and hard work of the UN Human Rights relevant to the issue of the High Commissioner 101-page report, Saudi Arabia’s breach of diplomatic rules in another country and the violation of human rights statement and other actors of the dominant management response Riyadh and blood pressure to rise to cause. Subsequently, the audio news in the hands of Turkish Intelligence, due to the US Intelligence report’s publication to the public in February 2021, revealed that the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed Bin Salman, is responsible for this incident.

Historical Background: Saudi Arabia – US Relations

Even though the backyard of relations is in turmoil, Saudi Arabia is the most crucial ally in the region for Western actors.  It has a decisive role in ensuring regional security since World War II. As a result of acting with the Western Bloc during the Cold War and mutual benefit relations; “It is a partnership that demonstrates the special character of the Westphalian state system.” (Kissinger, 2016) Saudi Arabia’s internal and external security concerns are the most critical issue detected in the relations examined in the oil and arms trade; It is the four main foreign policy lines determined by Saudi Arabia. These are: “To protect Islamic life in the region and the world, to preserve national economic prosperity, to help Arab and Islamic countries and to ensure the continuation of the regime.” (Domazeti,2017) However, the most important thing is the sustainability of the regime. At this point, with the 1979 Iranian Revolution, the 1990 invasion of Kuwait, the Riyadh administration, which aims to increase its military capacity for every conjuncture it perceives as a threat, has become one of the countries that buy the most weapons in the world today. Essentially, within the framework of the arms procurement negotiations that have been in effect since 2007, from the USA, Bargains were made for a wide range of military equipment such as helicopters, radar systems, and missiles. Ultimately, the US made one of the most significant sales, with around $ 30 billion in arms purchase between the two countries, to strengthen the army.

In summary, these agreements; shows that Saudi Arabia’s security is critical to the United States. To ensure the safe and comfortable transfer of energy resources of Saudi Arabia, one of the largest oil producers, is necessary for a balancing country against Iran, which is strengthening and becoming a threat in the region. Finally, It stems from the fact that it is a source of income. 

Undoubtedly, the other fundamental building block of the two actors is the oil-sourced economic relations. “75% of all revenues of Saudi Arabia and 90% of export revenues are met from petroleum. With 264.2 billion barrels of oil reserves of the country, it has 22% of the total oil reserves in the world.” (DEİK, 2005) The increase in oil supply has prompted to increase in the relations between the two countries. As a result of the oil exploration that started in the 1920s, Saudi Arabia gave concessions to the USA. Then ARAMCO, which symbolizes the American-Arab cooperation, was established in the 1940s. Looking at the big picture; While Saudi Arabia’s imports are observed as military equipment, US imports are shaped based on petroleum products. As a result of mutual economic interdependence, despite the 1973 OPEC Crisis, although they have different views on the Palestinian issue, after the crisis that followed the September 11 attacks, cooperation was developed to fight terrorism. In particular, joint efforts towards Al Qaeda’s presence in Yemen and the danger of Daesh have brought the two countries to a parallel line. However, “The distrust between Saudi Arabia and the USA during both the September 11 incidents and the 2003 Iraq War led to an unstable situation in the relations.” (Bradley, 2006) Despite all these adverse conditions, the two countries’ common economic and political interests allow for cooperation. However, since the Cold War, the US security guard in the region has transformed and changed during the Obama Period. While the additional cost of the guarantee turns into a burden that the USA wants to get rid of, it points to a security crisis for Saudi Arabia. Also, since factors such as the US nuclear deal with Iran and the Syrian Civil War will increase Iran’s influence in the region, Saudi Arabia and US relations have differed in terms of regional order and status quo. Ultimately, cooperation advanced until the Obama Era has been the threshold of both crisis and opportunities. With Trump’s election as president, a new order has come to the fore. Within the framework of the Khashoggi murder, the direction Biden will carry the relations has settled on the controversial ground.

Who is Jamal Khashoggi, and why was he targeted?

Jamal Khashoggi, a member of the internationally recognized Khashoggi family, was born in 1958 in Medina. As is known, the family immigrated to Turkey 300 years ago; In particular, they are also known for the wealth they have earned in the weapons industry of the global market between 1970-1980. “Adnan Khashoggi is Jamal Khashoggi’s uncle. The famous businessman Dodi Fayed, who died with his lover Lady Diana in a traffic accident in Paris, is Jamal Khashoggi’s cousin. Hasan Khashoggi, who was in the nightclub in the Reina attack in 2017 and was among the survivors of the attack, also comes from this family.” (Donna Abu-Nasr, 2018). Jamal Khashoggi graduated from the Department of Business Administration at Indiana University, focused primarily on Muslim Brotherhood and Islamic actions. In this context, he criticized the hostile acts against Islamic political activities in Saudi Arabia. Afterwards, Khashoggi, who developed his professional business life in the media sector, is apparent that he has a critical attitude. However, it is seen that he has close relations with the royal family. On the same axis, Khashoggi, who vigorously defends economic, political, social, and religious innovations for his country, is also a conservative international public reformist. Khashoggi, who also worked for various newspapers in his country, had to leave his post due to his criticisms against the clergy. One of his most striking complaints is that Wahhabi is a name that has been reacted in the circles of the church because it is towards radicalization. The period of increased polarization with the Riyadh Administration corresponds to the beginning of the Arab Spring. He criticized the Riyadh Administration, which did not support the uprisings. Then, in the panel where he stated that former US President Donald Trump’s election would create an adverse action in the Middle East, it caused the Riyadh Government to be uneasy. The publication of the El-Hayat newspaper, where Khashoggi worked as an editor, was stopped.

On the other hand, the Iranian policies implemented by the Crown Prince, whose influence in the administration is increasing day by day, the Yemen Intervention, the Qatar Embargo, the support given to the Sisi Regime in Egypt, and the suppression of the opposition voices in the country have also intensified Khashoggi’s criticisms. Also, he looked for warm relations with Turkey and Qatar, which, in this case, in the Saudi regional power struggle, has annoyed the government.  Turkey’s growing influence in the region has increased the pace of competition policy. Ultimately, with the gravity of political separation, the Khashoggi assassination took place due to Crown Prince Salman’s orders.

Trump’s Term and Murder of Jamal Khashoggi

President Trump, who strongly advocates a costless foreign policy axis, also has an aggressive appearance by becoming the global order’s dominant power. This point of view has also increased the arms trade tendencies. On the other hand, Trump’s statements to Islamic countries also caused a great disturbance. “However, US President Donald Trump’s first trip abroad to Saudi Arabia is an indication that she wants to make a new start with the Gulf countries and to erase the bad traces of the Obama administration.” (SETA, 2019) Subsequently, the traditional cooperation was prevented from being damaged during the Obama Period and approximately 110 billion dollars of military agreement was signed by the two countries. “In addition, it has been announced that the agreements covering various fields are around 350-400 billion dollars in total.” (Fattah, 2017) The limitation of Iran during the Trump Era, the support of Saudi Arabia as a result of the status quo crisis brought about by the Arab Spring, and the development of a common idea in this field have been a very relaxing maneuver for the Riyadh government. However, the fact that the USA did not fully stand behind Saudi Arabia on the issue of the Qatar embargo indicates that the Washington administration has different approaches in the power-oriented struggle. Bilateral relations, which progressed with the interaction of economic interests, also showed themselves in the Khashoggi murder. The brutal murder of Khashoggi, Turkey poured out of the stable and intelligence work has resulted in the accepted of the murder of Riyadh Management. In this situation, it created a great pressure for Saudi Arabia and caused the Crown Prince Salman to become the focal point. Throughout the murder process, Trump, while constantly expressing his concerns about the murder, also emphasized how important an actor Saudi Arabia is in the region. Therefore, rather than making statements satisfying the international public, “The Trump administration, taking into account the financial interests, has made it clear that it wants to work with Mohammed bin Salman if it pays attention to its behavior on the regional level.” (Gause, 2018) Although there has been reaction and pressure in the context of the US public, media, Congress and Senate, Trump’s statement, “I protected Mohammed bin Salman from the Congressional investigation” (Euro News, 2020), in an interview with Journalist Woodward, said that traditional democracy and human rights. It is observed that the USA, which is named as the owner of the principles, evaluates Saudi Arabia as a result of financial interests. 


With the change of government in the USA and Biden’s election, Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, who was on the agenda and the CIA reports in February 2021, was shown to be the biggest responsible for the Khashoggi murder. While US President Biden described this assassination as a scandal, he stated that it would respond due to human rights violations. As a result of the report, 76 people named in the murder were banned from entering and leaving the USA. The emphasis that the new government will make a fundamental change in relations has also been striking. “Answering journalists’ questions in the capital Washington, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated that relations between his country and the Saudi Kingdom” need to be recalibrated so that they are more in line with American interests and values. “(Deutsche Welle, 2.021). Although these statements seem threatening to the Riyadh Administration, bilateral relations will not be interrupted considered a showpiece attitude. Although Biden’s withdrawal of support from Yemen, the temporary suspension of the billion-dollar deals made during the Trump era showed a change in tactics for the US, and it was perceived as if it caused Mohammed Bin Salman to get stuck in the political sphere,

The USA does not impose sanctions on state officials against Saudi Arabia as it has done to Russia. No restrictions are imposed even though the person who gave the order is the Crown Prince reveals that the USA cannot give up on Saudi Arabia. Indeed, the USA has a large share of arms sales in its relations with the Gulf countries, and Saudi Arabia is a big customer. It shows that the USA will maintain its ties with Saudi Arabia even if it is up and down. As a result, the Biden administration’s opinion will not exceed this line in the USA is seen as more dominant in the international public opinion.

Prepared by Nazlıcan Arslan for The FEAS Journal.


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