Tue, 20 Apr 2021

  • The US urged Saudi Arabia to take further measure after the killing of Jamal Khashoggi.
  • A US government report found that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was responsible for the killing.
  • The Biden administration also imposed sanctions on the Rapid Intervention Force.

The US on Monday pressed Saudi Arabia to take further measures after the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi as Washington faced growing criticism that it did not directly target Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

President Joe Biden on Friday released an intelligence report that found that Prince Mohammed approved the 2018 killing of Khashoggi, a US-based contributor to The Washington Post who was lured into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul where he was strangled to death and dismembered.

READ | Jamal Khashoggi fiancee demands punishment for Saudi prince

The report - classified under former president Donald Trump, a close ally of the Saudis - found that seven of the 15 members of the hit squad that flew to Istanbul came from the Rapid Intervention Force, which it said "exists to defend the crown prince" and "answers only to him".

"We have urged Saudi Arabia to disband this group and then adopt institutional, systemic reforms and controls to ensure that anti-dissident activities and operations cease and cease completely," State Department spokesperson Ned Price told reporters.

"We have made crystal clear - and will continue to do so - that the brutal killing of Jamal Khashoggi 28 months ago remains unacceptable conduct," Price said.

He also called on Saudi Arabia to act on other fronts including lifting a travel ban on Loujain al-Hathloul, an advocate for women's right to drive in the ultra-conservative kingdom who was provisionally freed in January after nearly three years in jail.

Foreign leaders

The Biden administration imposed sanctions on the Rapid Intervention Force - meaning any US transactions with it will be a crime - and said it was banning entry into the US of 76 Saudis under a new policy against foreign officials who harass dissidents.

Biden has sought to "recalibrate" the decades-old Saudi alliance and has already said the US will end support for offensive operations in the devastating Saudi war in Yemen.

But the administration stopped short of personally targeting the 35-year-old crown prince - the de facto leader as well as defence minister of the major oil provider.

Asked why no action was taken against the prince, also known by his initials MBS, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that the US does not typically sanction foreign leaders - despite frequent US action against senior officials of hostile nations.

But she hinted that Prince Mohammed was not permanently off the hook, saying: "Of course we reserve the right to take any action at the time and manner of our choosing."

Source: News24

More Saudi Arabia News

Access More

Sign up for Saudi Arabia News

a daily newsletter full of things to discuss over drinks.and the great thing is that it's on the house!