A long-awaited US intelligence report on the brutal killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi is expected to be released in short order.
The damning report will say that the kingdom’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman approved and likely ordered the grisly assassination on Turkish soil in 2018.
The world will never forget the gruesome assassination of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
The outspoken critic of the Saudi regime was killed and dismembered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October, 2018.
Shortly after the killing the US Central Intelligence Agency assessed with high confidence that Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, had personally ordered the assassination.
The case turned into a severe political storm triggering global condemnation of the Saudis, however, the US President at the time, Donald Trump, chose to stand with the notorious Crown Prince and rejected calls to condemn him.
Trump’s White House dismissed intelligence that bin Salman had personally ordered the killing. The former American president made no secret of what was behind his unrelenting support for bin Salman.
Trump stressed that he did not want to sacrifice billions of dollars in US arms sales to Saudi Arabia over the matter. The previous US administration blocked the release of the intelligence community’s findings into the killing.
Trump’s successor Joe Biden is apparently taking a different course. Biden said during a presidential campaign rally that Khashoggi was murdered and that he believes the Crown Prince ordered the hit.
His administration is now releasing a declassified version of the top secret intelligence report that singles out the Saudi Crown Prince for at least giving the go ahead for the assassination, if not directly ordering it.
Biden has pledged to take a tough line on Saudi Arabia’s human rights violations and its war on Yemen.
Biden, I think, is signaling MBS and the world that the United States is getting back on board as a leader in diplomacy, as a world leader, and you’re not going to be those things if you’re led around the world by the nose, by a Saudi feudal prince, that’s going to change… didn’t change under Trump; didn’t change under Obama. I hope to see Biden change that.
Brian Downing, Independent National Security Analyst
The new US administration has made some policy changes regarding Saudi Arabia, US President Joe Biden has ended American support for offensive operations in the Saudi led war in Yemen, and has frozen weapons sales to the kingdom.
Things are not looking very bright for the relationship between the two allies, at least for now.
The release of the report on the assassination of Khashoggi is expected to further strain the ties between the two sides. However, during a call with the Saudi King on Thursday Biden told Salman that he would work for bilateral ties, as strongly and transparently as possible.
Biden and top administration officials have stressed that they are committed to Saudi Arabia’s security. Biden has been in office for a little more than a month, and it is definitely too soon to judge his decisions.
The Saudi kingdom is right now, a major foreign policy dilemma for the White House.
Even if Biden is willing to punish the Saudis for their rights violations and destabilizing actions like their war in Yemen, the road ahead will be very bumpy, since the kingdom is a long standing US ally with many powerful friends in Washington.
It goes without saying, however, that the temptation presented by the flow of Saudi Petro dollars will definitely not be easy for the Americans to resist.