Murder in the Consulate: The Khashoggi Affair and the Turkish-Saudi War of Narratives

Tarek Cherkaoui, Ravale Mohydin


The murder of Saudi journalist and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi took place inside the Saudi Arabian Consulate, Istanbul, in October 2018. This brutal political assassination, whose strategic, political and legal ramifications are still ongoing, provoked an international outcry, remaining prominent in the global news agenda for several months. This article will compare and contrast the information and analysis conveyed by Turkey’s state news agency, the Anadolu Agency, with the Saudi Press Agency. The framing, rhetoric and discursive structures used by both sides while covering this incident will be thoroughly evaluated.

The research purpose is threefold: First, this article seeks to examine the political and social dynamics underpinning the ensuing contest of media narratives in the region. Second, it aims to analyse the communication strategies employed by the two states, namely Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Not only are these two countries diametrically opposed in regard to the Khashoggi killing, they are also on a collision course concerning several geo-strategic matters throughout the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Third, the article explores the use of news framing (in the words of Robert Entman) and the role of state news agencies as they publicise particular events and convey the vantage point of their respective ruling establishments. Beyond these objectives, this article will also offer some clues about the mediated geo-political space(s) in which the opposed framings proceed, bearing in mind that these battles of frames take place in English and involve several public spheres, ranging from the Eastern Mediterranean, to the Middle East, to the Anglophone global public arena.

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