U.S. prepares action against Saudis
Measures would target Khashoggi’s killers, end refueling flights
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.