When the hype over the CIA report ended – with the crown prince singled out as being involved in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi – it seemed as if the United States wanted to choose the “appropriate” confrontational path to set him against Saudi Arabia. The report was published Friday evening, Swedish time.
The United States’ behavior on the issue has sparked great interest, as Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest military power in decades, has been its closest ally in the Arab world.
Foreign Minister Anthony Blinken announced that a “Khashoggi embargo” would be imposed on the 76 Saudis identified as being involved in the murder plot. Some of them are being banned from entering the United States, while others have had their assets frozen. Americans will be disallowed in work contexts. Blinken stressed that more Saudis could be punished if they were persecuted because of the persecution of Saudi dissidents abroad.
President Joe Biden previously froze portions of previously agreed arms shipments to Saudi Arabia. It is unclear whether the deals will remain “upside down” or whether the contracts will be canceled.
Joe Biden also halted US arms deals and military aid for Saudi Arabia’s war in neighboring Yemen, a bloody conflict known as the “Mohammed bin Salman war” for nearly six years.
Additionally, Biden has previously indicated that he will distance himself from Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in official contexts. The 35-year-old Crown Prize, who was also Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Defense, has overshadowed his father, the 85-year-old King Salman, who is the de facto person who ruled and took over the monarchy. But Washington will now clearly continue to follow the protocol.
Measures can be seen on the one hand As a strong signal from the United States towards Saudi Arabia: The presidential administration will not turn a blind eye to Saudi violations against opposition figures, as happened in the past, during the era of Donald Trump.
On the one hand, President Joe Biden also does not run the line and punish the individual – Mohammed bin Salman – who has been linked by the United States to a crime. Such a move could radically change US-Saudi relations, and the United States does not want that. In addition, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a very important strategic partner.
The closest circle around Jamal Khashoggi, the man who paid with his life for his critical articles against Saudi Arabia, was noticeably disappointed. They believe that MBS was treated with silk gloves.
Do not forget that Donald Trump also imposed sanctions on the Saudis after the assassination – 17 people, including Saud Al-Qahtani, Mohammed bin Salman’s closest man. Did this affect Mohammed bin Salman? No.
This is what Sarah Leah Wilson, Secretary General of the Organization for Democracy in the Arab World (Dawn), says an American pressure group founded by Jamal Khashoggi shortly before his death. Wilson wants to punish Crown Prince Bin Salman with “severe financial penalties”.
However, the Saudi government protests the report on the assassination. “Incorrect information and incorrect conclusions,” said a statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Riyadh.
She added, “The leaders of the Kingdom have taken the necessary steps to ensure that such a tragedy (the assassination of Khashoggi, the editor’s note) does not repeat.