U.S. pre­pares ac­tion against Saudis

Mea­sures would tar­get Khashoggi’s killers, end re­fu­el­ing flights

The Dallas Morning News - - World - Ju­lian E. Barnes and Ed­ward Wong, The New York Times

WASH­ING­TON — The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion is pre­par­ing to end air re­fu­el­ing flights for the Saudi Ara­bian mil­i­tary cam­paign in Ye­men and to im­pose sanc­tions against Saudis linked to the killing of Ja­mal Khashoggi, cur­rent and for­mer U.S. of­fi­cials said Fri­day.

The steps ap­pear cal­i­brat­ ed to re­spond to in­ter­na­tional out­rage over Khashoggi’s death and to thou­sands of civil­ian deaths in the Ye­men war but to avoid di­rectly pun­ish­ing the Saudi crown prince, Mo­hammed bin Sal­man, and they could head off tougher con­gres­sional ac­tion.

Khashoggi, a critic of the Saudi gov­ern­ment who wrote for The Wash­ing­ton Post and lived in Vir­ginia, was killed last month in the Saudi Con­sulate in Is­tan­bul by what the Turk­ish gov­ern­ment has de­ scribed as a kill team dis­patched from Riyadh, the Saudi cap­i­tal.

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has called Khashoggi’s killing a “very sad thing, very ter­ri­ble thing,” but his ad­min­is­tra­tion has sig­naled that it in­tends to con­tinue work­ing with the crown prince.

Saudi Ara­bia is ex­pected to an­nounce next week that it will no longer use U.S. aerial re­fu­el­ing planes, a move the Pen­tagon will re­in­force. A Pen­tagon spokes­woman de­ clined to com­ment.

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion is also ex­pected to an­nounce eco­nomic sanc­tions against Saudi of­fi­cials linked to Khashoggi’s mur­der, ac­cord­ing to cur­rent and for­mer of­fi­cials.

U.S. sup­port for the Saudiled war in Ye­men has been con­tro­ver­sial, es­pe­cially as civil­ian ca­su­al­ties have mounted and famine has gripped the coun­try.

Last week, De­fense Sec­re­tary Jim Mat­tis and Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo called on all sides in the Ye­men war to end hos­til­i­ties and take part in U.n.­led ne­go­ti­a­tions. But Saudi lead­ers were re­ported to have es­ca­lated their airstrikes.

“It is a very pub­lic re­buke of both the sec­re­tary of state and the sec­re­tary of de­fense by the Saudis,” said Bruce Riedel, an ex­pert on Saudi Ara­bia at the Brook­ings In­sti­tu­tion.

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