Report on Khashoggi killing will strain U.S.-Saudi relations

Ruben Fields
February 26, 2021

Along with top advisers like Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, he continually cast doubt on the USA intelligence communities' finding about the crown prince's role. And, despite the findings of US intelligence officials, he accepted the crown prince's explanation that the killing of the journalist was a rogue operation in which he played no part.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki has said the USA will "recalibrate" its relationship with Saudi Arabia, whose leaders were close to former President Donald Trump.

Khashoggi was lured to the Saudi mission in Istanbul on october 2, 2018 and killed by a team of Saudi operatives linked to the crown prince.

"We have been in touch with Saudi officials at numerous levels in the early weeks of this administration", said State Department spokesman Ned Price.

DAWN and other human rights groups are calling on the Biden administration to impose further travel bans and financial sanctions on senior Saudi officials, including MBS.

The 2018 murder rocked US-Saudi relations with congressional leaders from both major parties demanding accountability for the killing of Khashoggi, who was a US resident. The remains were never found.

Amid global calls for a thorough and transparent investigation into what happened, the US Congress passed a defence bill in December 2019 that included a provision requiring the DNI to release within 30 days an unclassified report on the murder.

Former President Donald Trump argued that the US-Saudi strategic alliance was too important to risk by punishing Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi's death, which occurred as the crown prince consolidated power.

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Citing four unidentified U.S. officials familiar with the matter, the Reuters news agency said the report "assessed that the crown prince approved and likely ordered the murder of Khashoggi".

"Yes I have", he told reporters when asked if he'd read the intelligence assessment. The Saudis say that the team acted on its own and that the crown prince was not involved.

United Nations human rights investigator Agnes Callamard said in 2019 that Saudi Arabia carried out a "deliberate, premeditated execution" of Khashoggi. Five men given the death penalty for the murder had their sentences commuted to 20 years in jail after being forgiven by Mr. Khashoggi's family.

The 35-year-old prince had surgery for appendicitis at the King Faisal Specialist Hospital in the Saudi capital of Riyadh in the morning, according to the royal court.

CNN reported on Thursday that the release of the report has been postponed until after the United States and Saudi leaders hold their conversation.

According to the White House, the USA discussed renewed diplomatic efforts to end the war in Yemen.

The decision to release the report comes as President Biden moves to reshape the relationship between Washington and Riyadh in ways that will inevitably strain it. Biden also is slashing USA support for the Saudi bombing campaign in Yemen, which has caused devastating civilian casualties, and attempting to resuscitate the Iran nuclear agreement.

But his prestige suffered a blow after the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018 by security personnel seen as close to the crown prince.

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