Saudi envoy disputes crown prince role in Khashoggi killing

Daniel Fowler
March 3, 2021

The public censure of the prince and a slew of USA sanctions on dozens of Saudi officials marks a sharp departure from the policy of former president Donald Trump, who sought to shield the kingdom's de facto ruler.

The document released last Friday echoed what has always been known about the killing: a 15-member Saudi team, including seven members of the prince's elite personal protective team, arrived in Istanbul, Turkey and were at the Saudi consulate where Khashoggi, a US -based journalist, had gone to the Saudi consulate to pick up documents needed for his wedding.

Cengiz, a Turkish citizen, was waiting for Khashoggi outside when he made his fateful trip to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018. But his approach also recognizes the power of a crown prince regarded as reckless and ruthless in Washington - but who could soon be king of a longtime U.S. ally. Surveillance cameras tracked his route and those of his alleged killers. His body has not been found.

He had gone to the consulate to pick up paperwork relating to their planned marriage, but once inside he was confronted and killed by Saudi operatives.

US President Joe Biden has faced criticism from within his own Democratic Party over his decision not to punish Prince Mohammed directly.

The Saudi government has repeated previous statements that Khashoggi's killing was a heinous crime by a rogue group, for which a Saudi court jailed eight people past year.

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on Monday that the United States reserved the right to sanction Mohammed bin Salman.

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Last month, Hebrew media reported that senior Israeli and Saudi officials recently held several phone calls to discuss the Biden administration's plans to rejoin the Iran nuclear deal. But it will be seen as an extraordinary rebuke of the ambitious 35-year-old Saudi leader, and is likely to set the tone for the Biden administration's relationship with the kingdom.

But Washington did not slap any direct sanctions on Prince Mohammed, known by his initials MBS, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken explaining that Biden wants to "recalibrate" but not "rupture" its relations with Riyadh, a longstanding Middle East partner.

"We are trying to get to the systemic issues underlying the brutal murder of Jamal Khashoggi", Price said.

".including those that suppress, harass, surveil, threaten, or harm journalists, activists, or other persons perceived to be dissidents for their work, or who engage in such activities with respect to the families or other close associates of such persons". He also told Univision on Friday that he was now dealing with the Saudi King and not bin Salman, saying "the rules are changing" in the US' relationship with the Saudis.

It also said it would impose visa restrictions on 76 Saudi individuals who have engaged or threatened dissidents overseas.

"The United States and the European Union must urgently place sanctions on MBS himself".

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