The latest report by the United States has found that the Saudi crown prince Muhammad Bin Salman ordered the execution of the exiled journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The report released by the newly-elected Biden administration suggests that MBS gave the “capture or kill” orders to Kingdom’s agents.
In response, the White House announced numerous sanctions on the Middle Eastern nation, but none on the crown prince himself. Meanwhile, the officials in Riyadh described the US report as false and fabricated. On the other hand, the effective ruler of the kingdom, Mohammad Bin Salman, has categorically denied any involvement in Khashoggi’s killing.
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The exiled Saudi journalist was killed when he was visiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, the agents later cut up his body, leaving no trace for the Turkish investigators. Previously, Khashoggi was an advisor to the Saudi government and was close to the royal family. But in 2017, he fell out of favor and went into a self-imposed exile. During his stay in the US, he wrote columns for Washington Post and criticized the incumbent ruler of Saudi Arabia.
The report released by the director of national intelligence maintained that Mohammad Bin Salman approved Khashoggi’s killing. It further suggested the in 2017, the crown prince was the effective ruler of the kingdom and one of his close aides participated in the operation, hence, he ordered the killing.
Additionally, it also named the individuals complicit in the operation. But the Saudi officials have blamed a group of rogue agents for the killing and last year, a local court tried and sentenced five people to twenty years in prison after sentencing them to death. Besides, Agnes Callamard, the United Nations’ special rapporteur, accused the Saudi state of deliberately killing the exiled journalist and a prominent critic of the crown prince.
Soon after the US made the report public, Biden’s secretary of State Anthony Blinken announced travel restrictions on Saudi Arabia, dubbed as the “Khashoggi ban.” He said that those targeted by Washington are believed to be directly involved in the inhumane killing of Jamal Khashoggi. Blinken added, “Perpetrators targeting perceived dissidents on behalf of any foreign government should not be permitted to reach American soil.”
Moreover, the US treasury department targeted close aides of the Saudi crown prince, including his former deputy intelligence chief Ahmad Asiri. In 2018, the CIA believed that Mohammad Bin Salman ordered the killing but the authorities never made his involvement public until now. The former President downplayed the allegations against the crown prince and advanced bilateral relations with its Middle Eastern ally. However, experts suggest that President Biden is expected to take a firmer approach to US relations with KSA.
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