Buenos Aires, November 28: Till a few months back, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was on a spree of PR campaigns to change the Kingdom's perception among world leaders, corporate honchos and top investors. While he was gradually gaining the tag of "liberaliser", things have dynamically changed following the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last month.
The 32-year-old heir-apparent to King Abdullah risks facing cold shoulders at the G20 summit in Argentina, where he will arrive on Friday. Ahead of his visit -- which Riyadh has confirmed -- activists in Buenos Aires have pressed on the Argentine government to press war crime charges against Prince Salman for the excesses being committed by Saudi forces against the civilians in Yemen. Saudi Arabia: King Salman Promises Justice but Does Not Take Jamal Khashoggi's Name at Annual Shura.
While no prosecution would be initiated by Argentina against MBS -- as the Saudi supreme leader is popularly called -- the scores of activists would ensure the Saudi Prince receives negative publicity at Buenos Aires from the international media.
Nearly a fortnight back, the Foreign Ministers of G7 nations, which form the core of G20, have issued a statement condemning Saudi's role in the murder of Khashoggi -- a Washington Post columnist known for his scathing views on Prince Salman.
Notably, the G7 nations include Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States. Out of these seven nations, heads of two -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron have openly expressed their dismay against the Kingdom for "murdering" a sane voice of dissent.
While US President Donald Trump has reiterated Washington's all-weather support to Riyadh, his administration has called off all official interactions between him and the Saudi Crown Prince on the sidelines of G20.
Analysts are also keen to watch out the manner in which Turkish President Recep tayyip Erdogan raises Khashoggi's case at G20. Erdogan has so far maintained that the order to kill the critical journalist in Istanbul consulate were issued from "highest levels of the Saudi government".
Khashoggi, a former close aide of the Saudi Royal family, was living in the United States under a self-imposed exile since 2016 -- when MBS was appointed the de-facto ruler of the state. Over the past two years, he had been regularly writing columns which were critical of his"ultra-authoritarian" approach.
On October 2, Khashoggi had visited the Saudi consulate in Istanbul along with his Turkish fiancé to procure necessary documents for marriage. The 59-year-old, however, did not return, which led to suspicion of foul play. After days of denial, the consulate conceded that Khashoggi has been "accidently killed" during an interrogation which went wrong.
Investigation by the Turkish authorities, however, revealed that Khashoggi was intentionally murdered a well-hatched conspiracy. A team of 15 assassins were sent from Saudi Arabia who brutally murdered him. His body was later "chopped off" into pieces and disposed inside the embassy.