US Senate to evaluate possible sanctions on Riyadh, mounting pressure on Trump

Published 26.11.2018 00:00
Updated 26.11.2018 00:05

As international pressure mounts on Saudi Arabia, the U.S. Senate is expected to be given a briefing by high-level officials from U.S. President Donald Trump's administration in order to evaluate possible sanctions on Saudi Arabia over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, despite Trump's ongoing support for Riyadh.

Although the decision has not yet been finalized, two congressional sources reportedly said that U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will likely give an "all-senators briefing" regarding longtime U.S. ally Saudi Arabia, according to a news report by The Hill on Nov. 24. Following the briefing the senators will evaluate whether to impose sanctions or block a major arms deal with Saudi Arabia.

Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post went missing after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul to obtain documents related to marriage on Oct. 2.

Meanwhile, as the U.S. senators and international community seek to increase pressure on Saudi Arabia, Trump seems to be avoiding taking a firm position against the Saudis. Trump said last week, Washington would remain a "steadfast partner" of Saudi Arabia despite saying that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) may have known about the plan to murder Khashoggi. In another speech last Wednesday, the U.S. president ignored criticisms that he gave Saudi Arabia a free pass on the murder of the dissident journalist, instead praising the kingdom for keeping oil prices low.

In relation to the Central Intelligence Agency's report over the murder, Trump said last week that "The CIA points it both ways. Maybe he did, maybe he didn't," a phrase he had used in a controversial statement released on the incident earlier. When the reporter asked who should be held responsible for the killing, Trump responded that "Maybe the world should be held accountable ‘cause the world is a vicious place." Turkish daily Hürriyet claimed last Wednesday that the CIA has a recording of a phone call in which MBS gave instructions to "silence Jamal Khashoggi as soon as possible." It cited a prominent Turkish columnist as saying CIA director Gina Haspel had "signaled" the existence of the recording during a visit to Ankara last month. Also, The Washington Post reported last week that the CIA has concluded that MBS ordered the assassination of Khashoggi. Regarding the issue, referring the reported CIA finding that MBS ordered the killing of Khashoggi, Saudi Prince Turki Al-Faisal stressed that the agency could not be counted on to reach a credible conclusion. "The CIA is not necessarily the highest standard of veracity or accuracy in assessing situations. The examples of that are multitude," Al-Faisal told journalists in Abu Dhabi on Saturday.

While Saudi Arabia is engulfed in an international crisis and the world seeks answers about the murder of the Saudi journalist, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman paid his second official visit to Bahrain yesterday since the murder of Khashoggi. According to the Bahrain News Agency, MBS, who began his regional tour with a visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) capital Abu Dhabi, discussed the historic relations and longstanding strategies of the two countries with Bahrain's King Hamad.

Khashoggi's light will never fade, slain journalist's daughters say

The daughters of Khashoggi, Noha Khashoggi and Razan Jamal Khashoggi wrote in The Washington Post on Nov. 23 saying that their father had never lost hope in his country and he was not a dissident.

"For while dad had created a new life for himself in the United States, he grieved for the home he had left. Throughout all his trials and travels, he never abandoned hope for his country. Because, in truth, dad was no dissident," they wrote.

Remembering their visit to Khashoggi's house in Virginia after the events of Oct. 2, the daughters said, "The hardest part was seeing his empty chair. His absence was deafening. We could see him sitting there, glasses on his forehead, reading or typing away."

The daughters stressed that their father's legacy would be preserved within themselves and Khashoggi's light will never fade.

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