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The EU’s foreign affairs chief says those behind the Saudi journalist’s murder should be held accountable.
Saudi Arabia has admitted Jamal Khashoggi was killed inside its consulate in the Turkish city of Istanbul.
Khashoggi – a Saudi writer, United States resident and The Washington Post columnist – entered the building on October 2 to obtain documentation certifying he had divorced his ex-wife so he could remarry.
After weeks of repeated denials that it had anything to do with his disappearance, the kingdom eventually acknowledged that its officials were behind the gruesome murder. The whereabouts of his body are still unknown.
Here are the latest related developments:
Thursday, November 22
EU’s Mogherini calls for ‘credible investigation’
A transparent and credible investigation into the killing of Khashoggi has not yet been completed, Federica Mogherini, the European Union’s foreign affairs chief, said on Thursday, after talks with Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.
Speaking at a joint news conference with EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn and Cavusoglu in Ankara, Mogherini also said she was completely against any application of the death penalty.
On his part, Cavusoglu said Khashoggi investigation was taking a long time and international community expected an independent probe into the case.
Denmark suspends weapon export approvals to Saudi
Denmark has decided to suspend approvals of weapon and military equipment exports to Saudi Arabia over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the situation in Yemen, its foreign minister said on Thursday.
The decision was taken after recent discussions with other foreign ministers in the European Union, he added.
The suspension also includes some dual-use technologies, a reference to materials that might have military applications.
Journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder was an “unfortunate accident” and any discussion that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was responsible and may not take the throne is “outrageous”, its Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said.
In a series of interviews on Wednesday, Jubeir reiterated that calls for Prince Mohammed, also known as MBS, to be held accountable for Khashoggi’s shocking killing are a “red line”.
“We will not tolerate any discussion of anything that is disparaging towards our monarch or our crown prince,” Jubeir told the BBC.
On other television networks, Jubeir steadfastly defended MBS despite a CIA assessment reportedly saying there was “high probability” that he ordered the murder.
“We have made it very clear that Saudi Arabia’s government is not involved in this and the crown prince is not involved in this at all,” he told US network CNBC.
The foreign minister was also asked about a Reuters news agency report this week that quoted Saudi sources saying a move was in play to prevent MBS from ascending the throne once his father, King Salman, 82, dies.
“These are outrageous comments that have been made and are totally unacceptable. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is committed to its leadership,” he said.
“The crown prince has the confidence of every Saudi citizen, including King Salman. The crown prince is the architect and driving force behind the reform programme in Saudi Arabia and the Vision of 2030,” Jubeir told CBS.
Meanwhile, in a statement on Wednesday, Reuters said: “We stand by our story.”
Wednesday, November 21
US senators accused President Donald Trump of putting “Saudi Arabia first” in his decision to not take punitive measures against the kingdom or Prince Mohammed over the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.
Trump’s decision is “yet another fawning prostration to a foreign authoritarian”, Democratic Senator Tim Kaine tweeted on Tuesday.
“It’s only a matter of time until actions like this one by the president directly threaten our security,” he added.
US newspaper blasts Trump’s ‘business as usual’ with Saudi
The Washington Post denounced President Trump’s decision to refrain from punishing Saudi Arabia for Khashoggi’s death.
The Saudi writer based in the US wrote columns for the newspaper critical of the Saudi royal family.
In a statement published on Twitter, The Washington Post publisher, Fred Ryan, accused Trump of putting personal relationships and commercial interests above American values of respect for human rights to continue to “do business as usual” with the Saudi crown prince.
Ryan further stated the CIA had “concluded with high confidence” that Prince Mohammed directed the October 2 killing. Ryan added if there is any reason to doubt these findings, Trump should immediately make that evidence public.
Trump said the CIA never made a “definitive” conclusion about who was responsible.
Tuesday, November 20
Senators demand ‘determination’ on MBS’s role in Khashoggi murder
High-ranking US senators called on Trump to investigate the part MBS played in Khashoggi’s death after the CIA reportedly determined the killing was ordered by MBS.
“In light of recent developments, including the Saudi government’s acknowledgment that Saudi officials killed Mr. Khashoggi in its Istanbul consulate, we request that your determination specifically address whether [MBS] is responsible for Mr. Khashoggi’s murder,” Republican Bob Corker and Democrat Bob Menendez wrote in their letter to Trump, sent on Tuesday.
Corker is the chairman and Menendez the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Under the Magnitsky Act, a law which empowers the US government to investigate human rights abuses requires the president “to determine whether a foreign person” has committed a “gross violation” of human rights against any individual, including extrajudicial murder.
The act also allows the US government to sanction individuals should it be determined they committed human rights violations.
Trump has said there will be no further punitive action against Saudi Arabia, citing arms deals and the kingdom’s role as “a great ally in our very important fight against Iran”.
Turkey insists for clarification on Khashoggi killing: Cavusoglu
Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Ankara may seek a formal United Nations inquiry over Khashoggi’s killing if it’s liaising with Riyadh comes to an impasse.
Speaking to reporters in Washington on Tuesday, Cavusoglu said Turkey is not entirely satisfied with the level of cooperation it is receiving from Saudi Arabia over the case.
“Whoever gave the instruction should be held accountable… Whoever committed this crime should be brought to justice,” he said.
Repeating Ankara’s position that the truth had to come out on who ordered the journalist’s killing, Cavusoglu said his country has shared the latest information with the US.
Trump says open to MBS meeting at G20 summit
President Trump has said he is prepared to meet Prince Mohammed at the G20 summit in Argentina at the end of the month.
Press reports have linked MBS to the killing of Khashoggi, with US media reporting that the CIA has concluded that he ordered the assassination of The Washington Post columnist. The Saudi government has repeatedly denied the claim.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday shortly after releasing a statement in which he promised that the US would remain a “steadfast partner” of Saudi Arabia, Trump said the CIA report into Khashoggi’s killing by Saudi agents of the dissident journalist found “nothing definitive”.
“The CIA looked at it,” he said at the White House. “They have nothing definitive.”
His comments came as leading Democrats in Congress criticized Trump for failing to take action against Prince Mohammed and called for cuts in Washington’s support to Riyadh.
Iran’s Zarif says Trump’s Khashoggi statement ‘shameful’
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that US President Donald Trump’s statement that Washington will stand by Riyadh despite Khashoggi’s murder is “shameful”.
In his statement, Trump also took aim at Iran, saying the country “is considered ‘the world’s leading sponsor of terror’.”
In response, Zarif wrote on Twitter: “Mr. Trump bizarrely devotes the FIRST paragraph of his shameful statement on Saudi atrocities to accuse Iran of every sort of malfeasance he can think of. Perhaps we’re also responsible for the California fires because we didn’t help rake the forests – just like the Finns do?”
Pompeo backs Trump’s support of Saudi Arabia
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo defended Washington’s support of Saudi Arabia in comments made shortly after President Trump defied international pressure over Khashoggi’s killing and promised to remain a “steadfast partner” of the kingdom.
Speaking to reporters following a meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in Washington on Tuesday, Pompeo said the US was obligated to “adopt policies that further America’s national security”.
He added: “The United States will continue to have a relationship with the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, they are an important partner of ours, we will do that with the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, its people – that is the commitment that the president made today, it is that straightforward.
“This is a long historical commitment and one that is absolutely vital to America’s national security.”
US president’s full statement on Khashoggi murder
Click here to read Donald Trump’s statement on the Saudi journalist’s killing last month.
Despite US intelligence reportedly linking the murder of Khashoggi to MBS, President Trump said on Tuesday the US would continue to have a “steadfast” relationship with the kingdom.
Trump said it “could very well be” that Prince Mohammed “had knowledge of this tragic event” and that the US intelligence agencies continue to assess all information surrounding the killing of the Saudi writer and critic.
A US State Department official who has seen a version of the CIA’s assessment on the murder of Khashoggi said it is “blindingly obvious” that Prince Mohammed ordered the killing.
“The idea that it goes all the way to the top is blindingly obvious. There’s an overwhelming consensus that the leadership is involved – no one is debating it within the government,” the official told ABC News on condition of anonymity on Tuesday.
However, the official acknowledged that the words “probably” and “likely” are used when attributing the death to MBS, ABC News reported, adding that the source noted that the CIA analysis reports rarely include explicit conclusions.
Pompeo handed Riyadh plan to shield MBS: Middle East Eye
Saudi Arabia’s king and crown prince are shielding themselves from the Jamal Khashoggi murder scandal by using a roadmap drawn up by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a senior Saudi source told Middle East Eye.
Pompeo delivered the plan in person during a meeting with Saudi King Salman and his son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, last month in Riyadh, said the source, who is familiar with the official’s talks with the Saudi leaders.
The plan includes an option to pin the Saudi journalist’s murder on an innocent member of the ruling al-Saud family in order to insulate those at the very top, the source told MEE.
That person has not yet been chosen, the source said, and Saudi leaders are reserving the use of that plan in case the pressure on MBS becomes too much.
“We would not be surprised if that happens,” the source told MEE.
The US State Department denied the Saudi source’s allegations and called them “a complete misrepresentation of the secretary’s diplomatic mission to Saudi Arabia”.
“We’ve spoken publicly about our goals: to impress upon Saudi leadership the seriousness to which the United States government attaches to a prompt and complete accounting of the murder of Jamal Khashoggi,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told MEE.
President Trump is facing increasing pressure to take tougher measures against Saudi Arabia before the expected release of an official report into the killing of Khashoggi.
Trump told reporters on Saturday that a detailed report including information about who was responsible for the murder of The Washington Post columnist inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul would be released “probably on Monday or Tuesday”.
According to US media reports, the CIA has concluded that Prince Mohammed, the kingdom’s de facto leader, ordered Khashoggi’s killing.
Trump has called the reports “premature” saying he’s not convinced that MBS was directly responsible for the October 2 slaying of the writer.
Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir rejected media reports that CIA believes MBS ordered the killing of Khashoggi and said Turkish statements on the matter is not targeting him.
“We in the kingdom know that such allegations about the crown prince have no basis in truth and we categorically reject them, whether through leaks or not,” Jubeir said in an interview with Asharq al-Awsat newspaper in remarks published on Tuesday.
“They are leaks that have not been officially announced, and I have noticed that they are based on an assessment, not conclusive evidence,” he added.
Members of Saudi Arabia’s ruling family are agitating to prevent Prince Mohammed from becoming king after the international uproar over the killing of Khashoggi, sources close to the royal court told Reuters news agency.
Senior US officials, meanwhile, indicated to Saudi advisers in recent weeks they would support Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz – who was deputy interior minister for nearly 40 years – as a potential successor to King Salman, according to Saudi sources with direct knowledge of the consultations.
Amid international outrage over Khashoggi’s murder, dozens of princes and cousins from powerful branches of the Al Saud family want to see a change in the line of succession, but will not act while King Salman – the crown prince’s 82-year-old father – is still alive, sources said.
They recognize the king is unlikely to turn against his favourite son, the report added. Rather, they are discussing the possibility with other family members that after the king’s death, Prince Ahmed, 76, uncle of the crown prince, could take the throne, according to the sources.
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