US mulls ‘strong steps’ against Khashoggi mur­der­ers

Washington’s re­cent re­marks hint at a more se­ri­ous response to Riyadh over Saudi Ara­bia’s in­volve­ment in the dis­si­dent Saudi jour­nal­ist’s mur­der

Daily Sabah (Turkey) - - Front Page -

QUES­TIONS con­tinue to linger about the fate of slain dis­si­dent Saudi jour­nal­ist Ja­mal Khashoggi’s body at the Saudi Con­sulate in Is­tan­bul, as the U.S. Un­der Sec­re­tary of State for Po­lit­i­cal Af­fairs David Hale stated Thurs­day that they are tak­ing steps to pe­nal­ize the cul­prits of the mur­der. Speak­ing at a panel of the Mid­dle East In­sti­tute in Washington, Hale re­it­er­ated the re­marks of U.S. Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo and said, “We are tak­ing strong steps, such as re­vok­ing the visas of Saudi of­fi­cials and con­sid­er­ing ex­am­in­ing the ap­pli­ca­bil­ity of the global Mag­nit­sky sanc­tions [which tar­gets peo­ple re­spon­si­ble for hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions or cor­rup­tion].”

POINT­ING out that the U.S. is very con­cerned about the is­sue, Hale called for Saudi Ara­bia to re­veal the truth about the case and find those re­spon­si­ble. He added, “Un­til now some steps have been taken, yet more should be done.”

Hale also un­der­scored that they be­lieve it is pos­si­ble to main­tain strate­gic co­op­er­a­tion be­tween the two coun­tries while the cul­prits are be­ing pe­nal­ized.

Khashoggi, a Saudi na­tional, dis­ap­peared on Oct. 2 af­ter en­ter­ing the Saudi Con­sulate in Is­tan­bul to re­ceive pa­per­work re­lated to mar­riage. Later, Is­tan­bul’s chief pros­e­cu­tor’s of­fice re­vealed that once in­side, Khashoggi was im­me­di­ately stran­gled and then dis­mem­bered pre­sum­ably by the 15-mem­ber Saudi as­sas­si­na­tion team that ar­rived in Is­tan­bul and vis­ited the con­sulate when the jour­nal­ist was in­side. All of these in­di­vid­u­als have since left Turkey and were later ar­rested by Saudi au­thor­i­ties.

Pre­vi­ously, the U.S. re­voked the visas of the in­di­vid­u­als re­spon­si­ble for killing the jour­nal­ist, and Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump in­di­cated that Riyadh was try­ing to coverup the mat­ter and that Saudi Crown Prince Mo­hammed bin Sal­man (MBS) may have been in­volved in the case.

How­ever, U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump ap­pears re­luc­tant to im­pose fur­ther sanc­tions as he sees Riyadh as an im­por­tant ally to con­tain Ira­nian power in the re­gion. U.S. law­mak­ers, on the other hand, aim to sus­pend ne­go­ti­a­tions with Saudi Ara­bia for a nu­clear tech­nol­ogy shar­ing agree­ment and have called for halt­ing the arms sale to Riyadh. Trump main­tains that an or­der of $110 bil­lion in weapons that sup­port 500,000 U.S. jobs should not be put in peril, and he will leave the con­se­quences for Saudi Ara­bia up to Congress, who will con­sult with him.

Ac­cord­ingly, Trump an­nounced on Wed­nes­day that he was con­sult­ing Congress on how to re­spond to the mur­der and that he would have “a very strong opin­ion” to of­fer next week on the killing.

Riyadh has changed its of­fi­cial po­si­tion on what hap­pened to the jour­nal­ist on mul­ti­ple oc­ca­sions, fuel­ing the sus­pi­cions of Saudi high-rank­ing of­fi­cials’ in­volve­ment in the killing. Ini­tially deny­ing and later play­ing down the in­ci­dent as an ac­ci­den­tal death dur­ing a fist­fight, al­most three weeks af­ter the dis­ap­pear­ance, Riyadh fi­nally ad­mit­ted that Khashoggi was mur­dered in a pre­med­i­tated in­ci­dent. Sub­se­quently, the coun­try ini­ti­ated a joint in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the mat­ter, send­ing Sau- di At­tor­ney Gen­eral Sheikh Saud al-Mu­jeb to Is­tan­bul as a part of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.


Hat­ice Cen­giz, the fi­ancee of Khashoggi, said she is hor­ri­fied by the de­tails of the jour­nal­ist’s mur­der, fol­low­ing re­cent Qatar-based Al-Jazeera re­ports that sug­gested the body was dis­solved in acid.

“I’m un­able to ex­press my sor­row to learn about dis­solv­ing your body Ja­mal! Are these killers and those be­hind it hu­man be­ings?” Cen­giz shared on her of­fi­cial Twit­ter ac­count.

Cen­giz added that she and Khashoggi’s fam­ily were de­prived of con­duct­ing fu­neral prayers and bury­ing him in Me­d­ina as they had wished.

De­spite the com­pre­hen­sive in­ves­ti­ga­tion, the body of the jour­nal­ist and the lo­cal collaborator be­lieved to have been re­spon­si­ble for dump­ing the body have yet to be found as Saudi au­thor­i­ties refuse to make an of­fi­cial state­ment on the is­sue.

Mean­while, the killing has drawn un­prece­dented in­ter­na­tional out­rage against Saudi Ara­bia, as many world lead­ers blamed MBS for the killing of Khashoggi, an out­spo­ken critic of the prince. Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­doğan also un­der­scored last week that Khashoggi’s mur­der was or­dered from the high­est lev­els of the Saudi gov­ern­ment.

Most re­cently, Boris John­son, a for­mer for­eign sec­re­tary of the United King­dom, said yes­ter­day that “Nor do I doubt for a sec­ond that this dis­gust­ing as­sas­si­na­tion was or­dered at the high­est lev­els of the Saudi regime.” John­son also ex­pressed his fear that cul­prits may brush the mat­ter un­der the car­pet and get away with their ac­tions due to their enor­mous power.

Posters protest­ing Ja­mal Khashoggi’s dis­ap­pear­ance seen on the po­lice bar­ri­cades around the Saudi Con­sulate in Is­tan­bul dur­ing demon­stra­tions, Oct.14.

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