The US intelligence services have just published a report on the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. The basic conclusion should come as no surprise.
Shortly after Khashoggi’s murder in October 2018 in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, the CIA assessed with great confidence that the Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman had personally ordered the murder. In June 2019, a United Nations investigator stated that it was “inconceivable” that the royal heir was ignorant of the operation.
However, then-President Trump refused to condemn the Saudi prince, even after it became clear that Saudi Arabia’s initial claims that Khashoggi’s assassination was a rogue operation were unfounded. Instead, Trump rejected the news that the prince was involved in the murder, saying that “maybe he did it, maybe he didn’t,” stressing that billions of dollars in US arms sales were made to Saudi Arabia. Arabia are not worth sacrificing for this matter.
In contrast, during a debate among the Democratic presidential candidates in November 2019, President Biden stated that “Khashoggi was indeed murdered and dismembered, and I believe on the orders of the Crown Prince”.
What the publication of the report means: The release of the report will be only the last postponement that Biden, with the support of Congress, makes in relations with US ally Saudi Arabia. Democratic lawmakers are expected to pass a resolution on Friday to hold Saudi Arabia accountable for Khashoggi’s death and dismemberment, as well as other human rights violations.
Biden and officials have stressed their commitment to the security of the kingdom. At the same time, the president ended US support for the Saudi Arabia-led war in Yemen that the Crown Prince began six years ago. Biden has also ordered an end to some arms sales to the kingdom and will shortly publish the report highlighting the prince’s lawless abuse of basic human rights.