Leading senators push towards deal targeting Saudi Arabia

06 December, 2018, 18:39 | Author: Myra Gill
  • Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

The resolution, which is mainly symbolic, says Saudi Arabia's crown prince is "complicit" in the killing. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said the crown prince was "complicit in the murder" of Khashoggi.

Panelist and Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, a former colleague of journalist Jamal Khashoggi who was allegedly murdered at the order of the Saudi crown prince, interjected with his perspective.

Officials in the Istanbul prosecutor's office confirmed to ABC News that the wanted men, royal court adviser Saud al-Qahtani and deputy intelligence chief Ahmed al-Assiri, are accused of planning and overseeing the killing of Khashoggi, which took place in the Saudi Arabian consulate building in Istanbul on October 2.

In the Khasoggi case, Trump has repeatedly avoided rebuking Saudi Arabia, pointing to the economic benefits of US arms sales to Saudi Arabia and Riyadh's role in preventing a spike in oil prices.

Asked if he's spoken to the White House about the push, Graham said bluntly: "They know where I'm at". "There is no way we're gonna continue to do business with Saudi Arabia as if this never happened".

United States intelligence assessments and experts say it's unlikely the killing could have happened without the crown prince's knowledge.

The Saudi prince is facing continuing pressure over the October 2 killing of the journalist inside the Saudi Arabia consulate in Istanbul.

"There's not a smoking gun".

While the Trump administration has repeatedly distinguished Khashoggi's murder and the war in Yemen as separate issues, lawmakers are tying both together as a showcase of how blank-check support for Saudi Arabia erodes US moral standing.

Last week, the administration sent Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary James Mattis to brief the Senate, but Graham and other senators expressed outrage that they were not hearing directly from Haspel, as the CIA's assessment had been liberally leaked to the media. Members of that chamber are scheduled to receive a briefing from Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Michael Pompeo on December 13, according to a House aide.

Saudi Arabia has detained 21 people and seeking the death penalty for five.

The administration has sanctioned 17 Saudis expected to involved, but lawmakers are demanding much more serious consequences. Just like the Americans did in 1776 when they decided they didn't want the king, and they didn't want another king or another prince: "they wanted their own government", Ahmed said.

Graham also authored an op-ed published in the Wall Street Journal earlier in the day, which argued that bin Salman is a "wrecking ball to US-Saudi relations" whose behavior helps only Iran.

"If John McCain were alive I believe he would be standing with me today, leading the charge to come down like a ton of bricks on the crown prince for what he's done to the relationship, the way he's destabilized the region", he told reporters on Tuesday.

Graham has said the resolution would be followed by an effort to impose sanctions.



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