Canada Considers Cancelling Saudi Arms Deal Over Kashoggi Murder

 

Canada is looking into ways to cancel a giant 2014 weapons deal with Saudi Arabia, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Sunday, as criticism mounts over the kingdom’s role in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the Riyadh-led war in Yemen.

Trudeau had earlier said that it would be “extremely difficult” to withdraw from the contract, signed by the previous conservative administration, “without Canadians paying exorbitant penalties.”

But as evidence emerged of direct Saudi involvement in Khashoggi’s murder on October 2, Canada in late November announced sanctions against 17 Saudi nationals linked to the killing.

“The murder of a journalist is absolutely unacceptable and that’s why Canada from the very beginning had been demanding answers and solutions on that,” Trudeau said Sunday in an interview with CTV.

“We inherited actually a (Can)$15 billion contract signed by (former prime minister) Stephen Harper to export light-armored vehicles to Saudi Arabia,” he said.

“We are engaged with the export permits to try and see if there is a way of no longer exporting these vehicles to Saudi Arabia,” he added.

The penalty for breaking the contract could exceed Can$1 billion, Trudeau said in an interview with CBC Radio in October.

Trudeau has been criticized by political opponents and Human Rights activists for failing to cancel the contract.

The historic Canadian arms deal 

London, Ontario-based manufacturer General Dynamic Land Systems Canada inked the deal in 2014 to supply 928 LAV 6 armoured personnel carriers to Saudi Arabia.

The deal, worth US$11.5 billion, was the largest arms deal in Canadian history.

But the contract was scaled back earlier this year, amid protests, to 742, dropping heavy assault versions equipped with cannons that activists and opposition politicians warned could be used against civilians and to help Riyadh wage war in Yemen.

Khashoggi, a US resident who wrote for The Washington Post and had been a critic of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was lured to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, killed and dismembered, according to Turkish officials.

After lengthy denials, Saudi authorities admitted responsibility for the murder and said 21 people had been taken into custody. However, a CIA analysis leaked to the US media went further, pointing the finger at the crown prince, Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler.

In October, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said her country would suspend arms sales to Saudi Arabia over the murder.

Relations between Canada and the Saudi kingdom have been in crisis in recent months.

Riyadh expelled Ottawa’s ambassador and severed all trade and investment ties in August to protest Canada’s rigorous demands that jailed human rights activists be released.

AFP

Khashoggi Murder: France Imposes Sanctions Against 18 Saudis

Khashoggi Killers 'Will Be Prosecuted In Saudi Arabia' - Govt
 Jamal Khashoggi                                                                                                                             Credit: AFP

 

The French foreign ministry said Thursday that it would impose sanctions against 18 Saudi citizens over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul last month.

“These measures… aim to prohibit these individuals from entering national territory and the entire Schengen area” of Europe, the ministry said in a statement.

AFP

Khashoggi’s Murder: Germany To Bar 18 Saudis From Entering Its Territory

People hold posters picturing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and lightened candles during a gathering outside the Saudi Arabia consulate in Istanbul, on October 25, 2018. PHOTO: Yasin AKGUL / AFP

 

Germany will bar 18 Saudis from entering its territory and Europe’s Schengen passport-free zone over their alleged links to the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Monday.

 

Maas said the move was “coordinated very closely with” France and Britain and the broader EU as they seek more information in Khashoggi’s death last month in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Berlin has “decided that Germany should impose an entry ban on 18 Saudi citizens, who are presumed to be connected with this deed, in the Schengen information system,” Maas told reporters.

“We are in close coordination on this issue within the European Union,” he said, speaking on the sidelines of a meeting of EU ministers in Brussels.

“Over the weekend, we stated that we expected further steps to be taken to clarify the situation.”

The murder and Riyadh’s explanations have angered its Western partners and raised tensions between United States and Saudi Arabia, a key oil supplier and US regional ally against Iran.

The United States last week sanctioned 17 Saudis for the crime.

The Schengen zone is composed of 22 EU nations and four non-EU countries. EU member Britain is not part of the passport-free zone, but shares intelligence through Shengen Information System (SIS) for law enforcement purposes.

Maas said Berlin was following Britain’s example last month to bar Saudi suspects in the Khashoggi murder, including revoking British visas for those who already have them.

Maas did not rule out a decision by all EU member states to impose travel bans on Saudis linked to the murder and left open the possibility of further action.

Call to suspend arms sales

In October, Germany called for EU countries to follow its lead and suspend arms sales for the moment to Saudi Arabia, prompting a dismissive response from French President Emmanuel Macron.

France is the kingdom’s second-biggest customer after India.

Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post who was critical of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was killed after going to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to retrieve documents necessary to marry his Turkish fiancee.

According to Turkish officials, an audio recording proves that Khashoggi was deliberately killed and dismembered soon after entering the consulate.

Saudi Arabia has offered shifting accounts of what happened, initially saying Khashoggi left the embassy after receiving his documents and later that he was killed when an argument degenerated into a fistfight.

In the latest version, the Saudi prosecutor said a 15-member team went to Istanbul to bring Khashoggi back to the kingdom but killed him instead in a rogue operation.

The prosecutor exonerated the crown prince, after indicting 11 Saudis and sacking five officials, including two members of Prince Mohammed’s inner circle.

US sanctions earlier this month targeted several top aides to the crown prince by freezing assets under US jurisdiction and forbidding US companies from doing business with them.

“We support the US action and are clear, we need to see proper accountability for those responsible,” a British government spokesman told AFP.

“Sanctions are implemented in concert with others. We are exploring with EU partners the potential for an EU global human rights sanctions regime, which could address such brutal human rights violations.”

AFP

Germany To Bar 18 Saudis Over Khashoggi Murder

Khashoggi Killers 'Will Be Prosecuted In Saudi Arabia' - Govt
 Jamal Khashoggi, looks on during a press conference in the Bahraini capital Manama. 
MOHAMMED AL-SHAIKH / AFP

 

Germany will bar 18 Saudis from entering its territory and Europe’s Schengen passport-free zone over their alleged links to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Monday.

Maas said the move was “coordinated very closely with” states France and Britain and the broader EU as they seek more information in Khashoggi‘s death last month in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Berlin has “decided that Germany should impose an entry ban on 18 Saudi citizens, who are presumed to be in connection with this deed, in the Schengen information system,” Maas told reporters.

“We are in close coordination on this issue within the European Union,” he said, speaking on the sidelines of a meeting of EU ministers in Brussels.

“Over the weekend, we stated that we expected further steps to be taken to clarify the situation. We will follow on this closely and reserve further steps for ourselves.”

The Schengen zone — which is composed of 22 EU nations and four non-EU countries. EU member Britain is not part of the passport-free Schengen zone but shares intelligence through Shengen Information System (SIS) for law enforcement purposes.

Germany called last month for EU countries to follow its lead and suspend arms sales for the moment to Saudi Arabia, prompting a dismissive response from French President Emmanuel Macron.

France is the kingdom’s second-biggest customer after India.

Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post who was critical of Saudi crown prince Mohamed bin Salman, was killed after going to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to retrieve documents necessary to marry his Turkish fiancee.

According to Turkish officials, an audio recording proves that Khashoggi was deliberately killed and dismembered soon after entering the consulate.

Saudi Arabia has offered shifting accounts of what happened, initially saying Khashoggi left the embassy after receiving his documents and later that he was killed when an argument degenerated into a fistfight.

In the latest version, the Saudi prosecutor said a 15-member team went to Istanbul to bring Khashoggi back to the kingdom but killed him instead in a rogue operation.

The prosecutor exonerated the crown prince, after indicting 11 Saudis and sacking five officials, including two members of Prince Mohammed’s inner circle.

The United States, traditionally Riyadh’s closest ally, has sanctioned 17 Saudis for the crime.

AFP

Khashoggi Murder: US Hits 17 Saudis With Sanctions

 

The United States on Thursday placed punishing economic sanctions on 17 Saudis allegedly involved in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, including top aides of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. 

The sanctions were declared after Riyadh’s public prosecutor announced that five officials face a possible death sentence in the case but exculpated the prince.

“The Saudi officials we are sanctioning were involved in the abhorrent killing of Jamal Khashoggi. These individuals who targeted and brutally killed a journalist who resided and worked in the United States must face consequences for their actions,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

The sanctions came amid widespread anger among Saudi allies over the killing and dismemberment of Khashoggi on October 2 in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.

Khashoggi, 59, was a veteran Saudi journalist who wrote for the Washington Post and other international media. He had become one of the leading public critics of Prince Mohammed, whose father is the Saudi king.

The 17 included Saud Al-Qahtani and Maher Mutreb, key aides of the powerful prince, and Mohammed Alotaibi, who was the consul general in the Istanbul consulate when Khashoggi was murdered.

The US Treasury said Qahtani, Prince Mohammed’s long-time right-hand man, “was part of the planning and execution of the operation” to kill Khashoggi.

But it did not point any fingers at Prince Mohammed, who the Saudi government has insisted did not order the killing.

The sanctions, which fall under the US Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, freeze any assets those blacklisted have under US jurisdiction and forbid Americans and US companies from doing business with them.

Under heavy pressure from the United States, Britain, France and Turkey, Riyadh has admitted that Khashoggi was murdered in the consulate and said it would punish those involved.

Earlier Thursday the state prosecutor’s office announced that 21 individuals had been taken into custody and charges set against 11 of them.

Five of them face possible execution for the murder, according to the prosecutor.

Mnuchin said Washington would persist in pressuring Riyadh for justice in the case.

“The United States continues to diligently work to ascertain all of the facts and will hold accountable each of those we find responsible in order to achieve justice for Khashoggi’s fiancée, children, and the family he leaves behind,” he said in a statement.

“The Government of Saudi Arabia must take appropriate steps to end any targeting of political dissidents or journalists.”

AFP

Saudi Refuses Inquiry Into Khashoggi Murder

Khashoggi Killers 'Will Be Prosecuted In Saudi Arabia' - Govt
Jamal Khashoggi/AFP

 

Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister on Thursday rejected Turkey’s demand for an international inquiry into the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in his country’s consulate in Istanbul. 

Adel al-Jubeir said Riyadh had its own “investigative body” and would “reject” an independent investigation into the killing of Khashoggi who had been “heavily drugged” before being dismembered.

AFP