President Donald Trump has come out in support of Saudi Arabia, promising to remain a “steadfast partner”, despite believing that Crown Price Mohammad bin Salmon ordered Jamal Khasoggi’s death earlier this year.
President Trump & The CIA Disagree
The CIA have investigated the death of the journalist inside the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul. He had entered on 2nd October to get a marriage document. The CIA claim that there is no “smoking gun” but they think that the killing would have required the prince’s approval.
On 17th November, Trump spoke to CIA director Gina Haspel and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo about the CIA’s assessment of the Khashoggi murder. A press secretary for the Trump administration gave no details, but said that Trump had confidence in the CIA.
The Turkish government also believe that the killing would need authorisation from the highest levels of the Saudi command.
However, in a statement released yesterday Trump supported the Saudi Arabia kingdom. He also claimed that they had agreed to “spend and invest $450 billion” in the US after his trip last year. A sum, Trump believes, would go to Russia and China if the US refused the contract.
“Representatives of Saudi Arabia say that Jamal Khashoggi was an “enemy of the state” and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, but my decision is in no way based on that – this is an unacceptable and horrible crime. King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman vigorously deny any knowledge of the planning or execution of the murder of Mr. Khashoggi. Our intelligence agencies continue to assess all information, but it could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event – maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!
“That being said, we may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi. In any case, our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. They have been a great ally in our very important fight against Iran. The United States intends to remain a steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia to ensure the interests of our country, Israel and all other partners in the region. It is our paramount goal to fully eliminate the threat of terrorism throughout the world!”
Trump also praised Saudi Arabia for being “very responsive” to requests to keep oil prices at reasonable levels.
US Senate Request Answers
Republican and Democratic leaders of the US senate have sent a letter to President Trump, requesting a second investigation into the murder, to “determine whether a foreign person is responsible for an extrajudicial killing, torture or other gross violation” of human rights.
The request requires a response within 120 days under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act.
The request explicitly states that the senate wants the determination to “specifically addresss whether Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman is responsible for Mr Khashoggi’s muder”. It is unclear what punishment they would request should the prince be found responsible.