Pressure is mounting on Riyadh to provide answers over journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance from its consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. Key allies have come out over the past 24 hours to state that they are not willing to ignore this incident that involves Saudi Arabia in such a crucial way.
The issue could strain the close relationship Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has forged with the Trump administration, which until now has been willing to turn a blind eye to Saudi human rights violations and its bombing campaign against Yemen's Houthi rebels, which has killed thousands of civilians.
U.S. President Donald Trump, who has been a vocal backer of King Salman in the Middle East said, "I am concerned. I don't like hearing about it. Hopefully that will sort itself out," Trump told reporters at the White House. He added, “"Right now, nobody knows anything about it. There are some pretty bad stories going around. I do not like it."
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence also waded into the controversy over the disappeared Saudi, saying "the free world deserves answers".
Deeply troubled to hear reports about Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi. If true, this is a tragic day. Violence against journalists across the globe is a threat to freedom of the press & human rights. The free world deserves answers.
— Vice President Mike Pence (@VP) October 8, 2018
Similarly, two senior senators of Trump's Republican party warned on Monday that the relationship could be imperiled if the stories about Khashoggi are correct. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said Riyadh must provide "honest answers" about the journalist.
UK's foreign secretary too has told Saudi Arabia that the British government expects urgent answers over the mysterious disappearance of Khashoggi. In a phone call to Saudi Arabia's foreign minister, Adel al-Jubeir, Jeremy Hunt warned that "friendships depend on shared values".
Just met the Saudi ambassador to seek urgent answers over Jamal Khashoggi. Violence against journalists worldwide is going up & is a grave threat to freedom of expression. If media reports prove correct, we will treat the incident seriously - friendships depend on shared values.
— Jeremy Hunt (@Jeremy_Hunt) October 9, 2018
Britain’s stronger line comes in the backdrop of the heavy criticism Theresa May’s government has faced for selling arms to Saudi Arabia as it continues its assault on Yemen.
UN experts have demanded a "prompt independent and international investigation" into his disappearance.
Khashoggi was last seen visiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last week, and Turkey says he may have been murdered there. Turkey says it will conduct a search of Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul.