White House defends decision not to punish Saudi crown prince MbS

RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA – DECEMBER 10: (—- EDITORIAL USE ONLY CREDIT REQUIRED – “BANDAR ALGALOUD / SAUDI KINGDOM COUNCIL / BROCHURE” – NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS – DISTRIBUTED AS A CUSTOMER SERVICE —-) Saudi Arabia Mohammad bin Salman attends the 40th annual Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on December 10, 2019 (Photo by Bandar Algaloud / Saudi Kingdom Council / Handout / Anadolu Agency via from Getty Images).

Anadolu Agency

WASHINGTON – The White House on Sunday defended its decision not to target Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman after a US intelligence report linked royals to the 2018 murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

“Historically and even in recent history, the Democratic and Republican administrations, no sanctions have been imposed on the leaders of foreign governments where we have diplomatic relations and even where we do not have diplomatic relations,” said White House press secretary Jen Psaki. he said during an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union” program.

“We believe there are more effective ways to ensure this does not happen again and also to make room to work with the Saudis in areas where there is mutual agreement,” Psaki said.

“This is what diplomacy looks like. This is what a complicated global engagement looks like and we have made no secrets and made it clear that we are going to hold them accountable on the global stage,” Psaki said, adding that the administration took steps to through the Department of State and the Treasury.

When he ran for president, Joe Biden said he would hold top Saudi leaders accountable for Khashoggi’s death, calling the kingdom’s leadership a “pariah” that had “very little social redemptive value.”

On Friday, the Treasury imposed sanctions on the crown prince’s security detachment, known as the Rapid Intervention Force. He also sanctioned the former deputy chief of the kingdom’s intelligence service, Ahmad Hassan Mohammed al-Asiri, who is accused of being a ringleader in the plot.

Meanwhile, the State Department imposed visa restrictions on 76 Saudis “who are believed to have been involved in threatening dissidents abroad, including but not limited to the murder of Khashoggi.”

Khashoggi, a 59-year-old American resident and a widely known critic of the Saudi royal family, went to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018. He never left after the scheduled appointment. They killed him inside the Saudi government building and then dismembered him. His remains were never recovered.

A man holds a poster of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi during a protest organized by members of the Turkish-Arab Media Association at the entrance of the Saudi consulate on October 8, 2018 in Istanbul, Turkey.

Chris McGrath | Getty Images News | fake images

When asked if the Biden administration would take further action, Psaki said the United States would recalibrate its relationship with Saudi Arabia in the wake of the Trump administration.

Earlier this month, Biden announced the end of US support for offensive operations in Yemen. Since March 2015, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have carried out attacks in Yemen against the Houthis. The Saudi-led intervention in Yemen had previously had the backing of the administration of former President Donald Trump. And last month, Biden halted sales of precision-guided munitions to Saudi Arabia to assess possible human rights abuses.

In the election campaign, then-Vice President Biden criticized then-President Donald Trump’s refusal to address human rights abuses in the kingdom and his enthusiasm for selling more American-made weapons to royalty.

“It would make it very clear that in fact we are not going to sell them more guns, in fact we are going to make them pay the price,” Biden said during a Democratic presidential debate. “They have to be held accountable,” he added.

The oil monarchy of Saudi Arabia is one of America’s most strategic partners and a major sponsor of American defense companies. The Saudis are the largest buyer of US-made weapons, a title that has protected the kingdom from retaliatory sanctions for the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the Saudi-led war in Yemen.

Despite reports that Saudi Arabia was behind the attack, Trump said in a lengthy statement that the United States would support Saudi Arabia.

US President Donald Trump watches Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman al-Saud as they line up for the family photo during the opening day of the 2018 Argentina G20 Leaders Summit in Costa Salguero on November 30, 2018 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. .

Daniel Jayo | fake images

Throughout his presidency, Trump often cited the importance of the United States’ relationship with Saudi Arabia, repeatedly rejecting approval of significant economic or political consequences for human rights abuses in Riyadh.

Trump has also previously said that the US defense industry would be negatively affected if his administration sanctioned the Saudis for Khashoggi’s assassination.

“I’m telling you what I don’t want to do,” Trump told CBS’s “60 Minutes” when asked about the possibility of blocking the sale of arms to Riyadh. “Boeing, Lockheed, Raytheon, all these [companies]. I don’t want to damage jobs. I don’t want to lose an order like that. There are other ways to punish, to use a word that is quite harsh, but it is true, “he said a month after Khashoggi’s disappearance.

Read more: Restrictions on arms sales to Saudi Arabia are likely to have limited impact on US defense companies, Cowen says.

The Biden administration has previously said that it is reviewing US relations with Saudi Arabia and, unlike the previous administration, the 35-year-old royalty is not seen as the president’s counterpart. Instead, Biden and will maintain relationships through the Crown Prince’s elderly father, King Salman, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken will maintain relationships through the Foreign Minister.


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