Labour has attacked the government for doing “too little, too late” in response to the presumed murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi on 2nd October 2018, the Guardian reported.

In the days since, the international response has been somewhat reserved and non-commital, demanding further information and answers before any action is taken. This begs the question as to what will happen next, and when Khashoggi will be found.

What we know about Jamal Khashoggi

Khashoggi is a prominent Saudi journalist, who wrote regularly for The Washington Post. He fled Saudi Arabia in September 2017, after he had written numerous articles that criticised the government, foreign policy and royal family.

On 2nd October he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, to collect documents relating to his divorce. He has not been seen since. Turkish authorities claim that Khashoggi was murdered inside the consulate by a Saudi hit squad, whilst Saudi representatives state that Khashoggi left the consulate building, albeit without any proof.

The international response to Khashoggi's disappearance

There has been increasing pressure on international leaders and organisations to respond to the diplomatic crisis. It seems that many are remaining noncommittal until more certain about the circumstances.

The UK's political friendship with Saudi Arabia is already a delicate one. UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt commented on 9th of October, one week after Khashoggi’s disappearance, demanding urgent answers from Riyadh.

This rather reserved statement was criticised by Emily Thornberry, the shadow foreign secretary, who attacked the government’s delayed response in yesterday’s Observer.

The UN secretary-general, António Guterres, was similarly noncommittal in his statement. He demanded to “know exactly what has happened” and “who is responsible”.

However, others have been more contentious in their reactions to Khashoggi’s disappearance. US President Donald Trump threatened “severe punishment” if Saudi authorities were proven to have been involved in Khashoggi’s suspected murder, the BBC reported.

Richard Branson, Virgin Group founder, has also reacted strongly. He has halted discussions over $1bn of Saudi investment in Virgin Galactic, the Virgin spaceflight company.

Diplomatic tensions surrounding Khashoggi's disappearance

Attendance at the upcoming “Future Investment Initiative” conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia’s capital, will be pivotal in gauging international reactions to Khashoggi's disappearance. The conference will be held from 23 to 25 October.

Many have already confirmed that they will no longer attend, as they withdrew their support from Saudi authorities following Khashoggi’s disappearance. This includes the Financial Times, CNN, the New York Times and Jim Kim, head of the World Bank.

However, Liam Fox (UK International Trade Secretary), Steve Mnuchin (US treasury secretary) and Christine Lagarde (Head of the International Monetary Fund) still intend to travel to the conference, unless further details emerge which incriminate Riyadh.

Perhaps Emily Thornberry was also referring to Fox’s attendance when she labelled the government’s response “too little too late”.

What happens next

In 2018, it seems almost unfathomable that a high-profile journalist can disappear without a trace inside a consulate building. With today's technology, as well as international pressure, it seems likely that Khashoggi’s fate should be discovered within the coming days.

Regardless of international diplomacy or complex political relations, Khashoggi is a man who needs to be found.