Khashoggi’s Fiancee Says US ‘Ethically’ Responsible To Seek Justice

Missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s Turkish fiancee Hatice waits in front of the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, on October 3, 2018.  OZAN KOSE / AFP

 

Khashoggi, a Washington Post contributor and US resident, was killed last October 2 by Saudi agents while at Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul to obtain paperwork ahead of his wedding to Hatice Cengiz.

Speaking to AFP on the sidelines of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, the 36-year-old Turkish scholar described her growing desperation as she stood outside the consulate and waited for her fiance to emerge, in vain.

“At the beginning, I thought maybe something bad had happened to him, but I never thought the really far end of the picture,” she said, speaking through an interpreter.

She said she suspected that Khashoggi — a harsh critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman — was experiencing some of the things he had feared.

“Maybe he was arrested inside, maybe they were interrogating him,” she said. “I never (considered) the possibility of a murder.”

With tears flowing down her cheeks and dripping into her silk hijab, she said she clung for months to the hope that the man she had planned to marry, and whose body has not been found, “might be alive”.

Massacred

But, she said, she had come to accept the truth: “He was violently murdered and massacred.”

Her comments came after the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Agnes Callamard, released a damning report last week that found “credible evidence” linking Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the killing.

The independent rights expert, who does not speak for the United Nations but reports her findings to it, called on UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to initiate an international criminal investigation into the case.

Guterres’s spokesman Stephane Dujarric however said Guterres did “not have the power or the authority to launch criminal investigations without a mandate from a competent intergovernmental body. Power and authority to do that lies with member states.”

Cengiz told AFP it was obvious that the country her fiance had called home had a duty to help ensure accountability for his murder.

“Politically and ethically the USA is the country that is (responsible) for requiring an international investigation,” she said, lamenting Washington’s muted response so far.

She slammed US President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for approaching the issue in a “hazy way”, and for preferring lucrative Saudi business relations over justice.

“This attitude of the USA is highly dangerous,” she said, adding that it “sets a bad example to the rest of the world.”

“I believe Saudi Arabia should pay for this and for its actions and suspects should be sentenced. Otherwise we will all be living in a world where (only) money talks.”

Cengiz meanwhile lauded Turkey for acting “like a flagship in creating awareness regarding the murder of Khashoggi”, but said it was unfair to expect Ankara to lead calls for an international investigation.

“I think Turkey is rightfully expecting other more powerful countries to take the lead in this matter,” she said.

Trusted US political system

“Jamal didn’t actually live in Turkey,” she noted, adding that he could have settled in her home country, where he had good ties, “but he preferred the US (because) he trusted the political system there.”

Riyadh initially said it had no knowledge of Khashoggi’s fate, but later blamed the murder on rogue agents, and Saudi prosecutors have absolved the crown prince of responsibility.

But Callamard’s report said probes by Saudi Arabia and Turkey “failed to meet international standards regarding the investigation into unlawful deaths”.

Callamard is set to present her report to the Human Rights Council on Wednesday, and Cengiz said she also planned to address the body briefly to get her message across.

“High-level authorities in Saudi Arabia (may be) involved in this murder case, so it must be further investigated,” she told an event earlier Tuesday.

“There is an urgent need for an international investigation of this murder.”

UN Judicial Expert In Turkey To Probe Khashoggi Murder

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

 

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Monday met with a UN judicial expert who is looking into the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi as Ankara calls for an international inquiry.

The UN special rapporteur on extra-judicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Agnes Callamard, will be in Turkey until Saturday for a series of meetings with authorities including the Istanbul chief prosecutor.

Khashoggi, a Washington Post contributor and Saudi regime critic, was murdered on October 2 in Turkey in what Riyadh called a “rogue” operation, tipping the kingdom into one of its worst diplomatic crises.

Turkish authorities have called for an international probe into the killing which took place at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, complaining of Saudi Arabia’s failure to cooperate.

“Met with @AgnesCallamard, #UN Special Rapporteur on Extra-Judicial Executions, who is in #Turkey to investigate the murder of Jamal Khashoggi,” Cavusoglu wrote on Twitter, sharing a picture from his meeting in Ankara.

In an interview with Turkish media last week, Cavusoglu said the Khashoggi case was “not a part of bilateral ties” with Riyadh.

“We believe this case should be brought to the international arena,” he said.

“It is time for an international probe.”

Nearly four months later, the whereabouts of Khashoggi’s body remains unknown and Turkish officials accuse Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of orchestrating the killing — an allegation Saudi authorities categorically refute.

Earlier this month a trial of 11 accused in the murder opened in Saudi Arabia with the attorney general seeking the death penalty for five defendants.

During her mission, Callemard is due to meet with Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul and Istanbul chief prosecutor Irfan Fidan, state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

AFP

Saudi Crown Prince Must Be ‘Dealt With’ Over Khashoggi Murder – US Senator

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman                   Slain Journalist, Jamal Khashoggi

 

A key US senator on Saturday said the Saudi crown prince was responsible for Jamal Khashoggi’s murder and must be “dealt with”, as he threatened new sanctions.

Republican Lindsey Graham, an influential ally of President Donald Trump, has previously said that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was complicit in the grisly killing of Washington Post contributor Khashoggi in October.

“I have concluded that the relationship between Saudi Arabia and the United States cannot move forward until MBS has been dealt with,” Graham said, using the initials for the crown prince.

Graham also threatened new sanctions against those suspected of involvement in the murder during a press conference in Ankara.

Western countries including the US, France and Canada have placed sanctions on nearly 20 Saudi nationals as the case has tarnished Riyadh’s international reputation.

“We will start sanctioning those involved in the killing of Mr Khashoggi. We’ll make a definitive statement that MBS knew about it and is responsible for it and come up with a series of sanctions,” the South Carolina lawmaker said.

Turkey says Khashoggi was killed by a team of 15 Saudis who strangled him during a visit to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2 to obtain paperwork ahead of his upcoming marriage.

The remains of the insider turned critic of the kingdom have yet to be found, three months after this murder.

Riyadh has denied any claims of the crown prince’s involvement but the case has caused strains with Washington.

Earlier this month the trial of 11 accused opened in Saudi Arabia with the attorney general seeking the death penalty for five defendants.

Graham acknowledged that he had been “enthusiastic” in his support of Prince Mohammed but accepted he had been “wrong”.

“What has transpired in the last couple of years is unnerving to say the least,” he said.

Graham said the sanctions were intended to send the message that the murder was “not what you do if you’re an ally of the United States”.

AFP

Pompeo To Press Saudi Crown Prince Over Khashoggi’s Murder

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

 

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday arrived in Riyadh, where he is set to press Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to hold the killers of journalist Jamal Khashoggi accountable.

The top US diplomat, on an extensive Middle East tour, embarked on his second politically sensitive visit to Saudi Arabia since Khashoggi’s murder inside its Istanbul consulate sparked an international outcry.

“We will continue to have a conversation with the crown prince and the Saudis about ensuring the accountability is full and complete with respect to the unacceptable murder of Jamal Khashoggi,” Pompeo told reporters in Qatar, before flying to the Saudi capital.

“We’ll… make sure we have all the facts so that they are held accountable, certainly by the Saudis but by the United States as well.”

After landing in Riyadh, Pompeo pushed for Saudi Arabia to continue its investigation into the murder, in talks with Adel al-Jubeir, minister of state for foreign affairs, and the Saudi Ambassador to Washington, Prince Khalid bin Salman.

Khashoggi, a Washington Post contributor, was murdered on October 2 in what Saudi Arabia called a “rogue” operation, tipping the kingdom into one of its worst diplomatic crises and subsequently straining ties between Riyadh and Washington.

Pompeo’s visit to Saudi Arabia, where he will be hosted by Prince Mohammed, is part of an extensive eight-day trip to Amman, Cairo, Manama, Abu Dhabi, Doha, Riyadh, Muscat, and finally Kuwait City.

Smiles with MBS 

US President Donald Trump has brushed aside international outrage to stand by Prince Mohammed over the murder of Khashoggi, whose corpse was dismembered at the consulate.

His support has come despite the US Central Intelligence Agency’s reported conclusion that Prince Mohammed very likely ordered the murder. A bipartisan resolution approved by the US Senate last month also held the crown prince responsible for the killing.

Riyadh prosecutors have announced indictments against 11 people and are seeking the death penalty against five of them. But Prince Mohammed, whose right-hand aides were allegedly involved in the murder, was exonerated by prosecutors.

On a previous visit to Riyadh at the height of the Khashoggi affair, Pompeo’s broad smiles with the crown prince outraged some Americans.

However, Trump has said Washington wants to preserve the alliance with the oil-rich kingdom, which he sees as a bulwark against common foe Iran and a lucrative buyer of US arms.

Rights groups have called on Pompeo to also press Prince Mohammed over the jailing of women activists in the kingdom, amid claims that some of them faced sexual harassment and torture during interrogation.

“I am struck by what is not included in Pompeo’s itinerary: the brave women activists of Saudi Arabia, who are being held in the kingdom’s prisons for seeking rights and dignity,” Alia al-Hathloul wrote in The New York Times Sunday.

Hathloul’s sister, Loujain, is among more than a dozen activists arrested last May — just before the historic lifting of Saudi Arabia’s decades-long ban on women drivers.

Gulf crisis 

Pompeo met the Qatari emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani during his visit to Doha, where he refused to comment on reports Washington had recently considered military action against Tehran.

He also called on Qatar and other Gulf countries to end the worst political rift in the region for years, which has seen Doha diplomatically and economically isolated by neighbouring former allies for the past 19 months.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt — all US allies — cut ties with Qatar in June 2017, accusing it of supporting terrorist groups and seeking closer ties to Saudi arch-rival Iran.

Qatar — also a US ally — denies the allegations and accuses the countries of seeking regime change.

“As for the GCC… we are all more powerful when we’re working together when we have common challenges in the region and around the world,” Pompeo said, referring to the six member nations of the Gulf Cooperation Council.

“Disputes between countries that have a shared objective are never helpful.”

He added that “President Trump and I both believe the ongoing dispute in the region has gone on too long”.

However, Pompeo later admitted in a Q&A session with US embassy staff in Doha that no progress was made on resolving the issue.

Mediation efforts by the United States, which at first appeared to back the boycott of Qatar, have stalled, as highlighted by the recent resignation of US envoy Anthony Zinni.

For Washington, turning the page on the crisis is essential for the successful launch of the Strategic Alliance of the Middle East (MESA), which is a NATO-style security pact that includes Gulf countries as well as Egypt and Jordan.

The US and Qatar held the second “strategic dialogue” between the two countries on Sunday and signed agreements on defence, education and culture.

AFP

Saudi Arabia Must Hold Khashoggi Killers ‘Accountable’ – Pompeo

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

 

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Sunday that he would ask Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to ensure the murderers of journalist Jamal Khashoggi are held “accountable”.

 

The top US diplomat, on an extensive Middle East tour, spoke ahead of a politically sensitive visit to Saudi Arabia, which has faced intense international scrutiny over Khashoggi’s murder inside its Istanbul consulate.

“We will continue to have a conversation with the crown prince and the Saudis about ensuring the accountability is full and complete with respect to the unacceptable murder of Jamal Khashoggi,” Pompeo told reporters at a press conference in Qatar.

“So, we’ll continue to talk about that and make sure we have all the facts so that they are held accountable, certainly by the Saudis but by the United States as well.”

Pompeo is due to travel to Saudi Arabia later on Sunday as part of an eight-day trip to Amman, Cairo, Manama, Abu Dhabi, Doha, Riyadh, Muscat, and finally Kuwait City.

He was speaking to journalists in Doha after meeting his Qatari counterpart, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani.

He will meet the Qatari emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, before heading to Saudi Arabia.

 Smiles with MBS 

Khashoggi was killed on October 2 in a case which stunned the world and threatened a serious rift between Riyadh and Washington.

The journalist was murdered and his corpse dismembered inside the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate.

Evidence subsequently emerged that the killing was done by a team of Saudis sent from Riyadh and closely linked to the crown prince. Washington subsequently demanded a transparent investigation.

Riyadh prosecutors have announced indictments against 11 people, and are seeking the death penalty against five of them.

But Prince Mohammed, whose right-hand aides were allegedly involved in the murder, was exonerated by prosecutors despite US intelligence reportedly having evidence that he was behind it.

On a previous visit to Riyadh at the height of the Khashoggi affair, Pompeo’s broad smiles with the crown prince outraged some Americans.

However, US President Donald President Trump has said Washington wants to preserve the alliance with the kingdom, although the US Senate has clearly blamed Prince Mohammed for the murder.

Washington is eager for regional unity to gain widespread support its fight against Iran.

Pompeo refused on Sunday to comment on reports that Washington had recently considered military action against Tehran.

 Gulf crisis 

He also called on Qatar and other Gulf countries to end the worst political rift in the region for years, which has seen Doha diplomatically and economically isolated by neighbouring former allies for the past 19 months.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt — all US allies — cut ties with Qatar in June 2017, accusing it of supporting terrorist groups and seeking closer ties to Saudi arch-rival Iran.

Qatar — also a US ally — denies the allegations and accuses the countries of seeking regime change.

“As for the GCC… we are all more powerful when we’re working together when we have common challenges in the region and around the world,” Pompeo said, referring to the six member nations of the Gulf Cooperation Council.

“Disputes between countries that have a shared objective are never helpful.

“We’re hopeful that unity in the GCC will increase in the days and weeks and months ahead.”

He added that “President Trump and I both believe the ongoing dispute in the region has gone on too long”.

Washington, which at first appeared to back the boycott of Qatar, has so far been unsuccessful in trying to end the dispute.

Attempts at mediation have stalled, as highlighted by the recent resignation of US envoy Anthony Zinni.

“It was time for a change and he made his decision to move on but America’s commitment remains unchanged,” said Pompeo of Zinni.

For Washington, turning the page on the crisis is essential for the successful launch of the Strategic Alliance of the Middle East (MESA), which is a NATO-style security pact that includes Gulf countries as well as Egypt and Jordan.

The US and Qatar held the second “strategic dialogue” between the two countries on Sunday, and signed agreements on defence, education and culture.

“This reflects the good and historical relationship between the two countries,” said the Qatari foreign minister.

AFP

Khashoggi Murder: US Lawmakers, Friends Mark 100 Days

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

 

US lawmakers from both parties, friends of murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi and press freedom groups on Thursday marked 100 days since the Saudi dissident’s assassination.

Featuring a portrait of Khashoggi against a backdrop of American flags, the ceremony began with a moment of silence.

“The murder of Khashoggi is an atrocity and an affront to humanity,” said Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi during the event in Washington.

Khashoggi, a Washington Post contributor who lived in the US, was killed in October at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, where he had gone to pick up paperwork needed for his upcoming marriage to his Turkish fiancee.

Over three months later, his body’s whereabouts remain unknown. Turkish and US officials accuse Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of orchestrating the killing — an allegation Saudi authorities categorically refute.

In Washington, US President Donald Trump’s response to Riyadh — a key trade partner — provoked outrage among lawmakers across the political spectrum.

“If we decide that commercial interest should override the statements that we make and the actions that we take, then we must admit that we have lost all moral authority to talk about any atrocities anywhere, any time,” Pelosi added.

The newspaper’s CEO Fred Ryan said Khashoggi’s death had “touched his Washington Post colleagues deeply.”

“Yet this story is not just about the murder of one innocent journalist,” he added.

“Jamal’s killing is part of an escalating attack against press freedom that is being waged by tyrants around the world.”

Meanwhile, Margaux Ewen, North America director for Reporters without Borders, warned that “journalists, bloggers, and media workers are under threat” every day.

“Together, let’s make sure the sacrifices of those like Jamal who have paid the ultimate price have not been in vain,” she said.

Amnesty International had earlier on Thursday appealed for a United Nations-led investigation into Khashoggi’s death.

AFP

Khashoggi Murder: Saudi Prosecutor Seeks Death Sentences As Trial Opens

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

 

Saudi prosecutors sought the death penalty for five of 11 defendants charged with the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, as their high-profile trial opened in Riyadh on Thursday.

The prosecution also said it was awaiting a response to two formal letters requesting evidence from Turkey, where Khashoggi was murdered inside the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate on October 2 in a case that shocked the world.

All 11 accused were present with their lawyers at the first session of the trial, it said in a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency, without revealing their names or their alleged roles in the crime.

“The public prosecutor… is seeking capital punishment for five of the defendants for their direct involvement in the murder,” the statement said.

Five top Saudi officials — including royal court insider Saud al-Qahtani — have been sacked over Khashoggi’s murder, but authorities have not said if they were among those charged.

Khashoggi, a Washington Post contributor, was murdered in what Riyadh called a “rogue” operation, tipping the kingdom into one of its worst diplomatic crises and tarnishing the reputation of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The 59-year-old Saudi insider-turned-critic was strangled and his body cut into pieces by a team of 15 Saudis sent to Istanbul for the killing, according to Turkish officials.

Turkish media reports suggested his remains, which have never been found, were dissolved in acid.

Calls for credible probe 

Thursday’s session was attended by the kingdom’s Human Rights Commission, SPA said, but like other Saudi trials it was closed to the public and media.

The United Nations and human rights groups have called for an independent investigation into Khashoggi’s killing.

“Given the possible involvement of Saudi authorities in Khashoggi’s murder and the lack of independence of Saudi Arabia’s criminal justice system, the impartiality of any investigation and trial would be in question,” Samah Hadid, a Middle East director at Amnesty International, told AFP on Thursday.

“This is why a UN-led and independent investigation is needed into the murder.”

The defence team on Thursday requested a copy of the charge sheet and a timeframe within which to review the charges. The prosecution agreed to both requests while its investigation continues, SPA said.

No date has been set for the next hearing and it was unclear how long the trial would last.

High-level involvement 

The Khashoggi murder rattled the world at a time when Saudi Arabia and its de facto leader, Prince Mohammed, were pushing an aggressive public relations campaign to rebrand the ultraconservative kingdom as a modern state.

Among Prince Mohammed’s strongest allies is US President Donald Trump, who now faces increasing pressure to approve measures against Saudi Arabia.

The US Central Intelligence Agency has reportedly concluded that Prince Mohammed very likely ordered Khashoggi’s murder. A bipartisan resolution approved by the US Senate last month also held the crown prince responsible for the killing.

But in November the Saudi attorney general ruled out any involvement by the young crown prince.

It was unclear whether Qahtani and Ahmad al-Assiri, two senior aides to Prince Mohammed initially implicated in Khashoggi’s murder, were among those on trial.

Saudi officials said in November that Qahtani — who has not spoken publicly since then — was banned from travel pending the investigation but authorities have refused to disclose his whereabouts.

“It is clear that elements from high levels of the Saudi state were involved in Khashoggi’s murder,” H.A. Hellyer, senior associate fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, told AFP.

“There is an immense amount of international interest in this trial, but also a lot of suspicion about whether those ultimately responsible for the crime will be held to account.”

There was no immediate reaction to Thursday’s trial from Ankara, which has sought the extradition of the suspects in Saudi custody to stand trial in Turkey.

But Riyadh has repeatedly rebuffed its requests.

The Khashoggi affair has given rare leverage to the kingdom’s rivals — not only Turkey and its ally Qatar, with which Saudi Arabia broke off all relations 18 months ago, but also arch-rival Iran.

AFP

CCTV Footage Shows Men Transporting ‘Khashoggi Body Parts’

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

 

A Turkish television station has broadcast CCTV footage showing men carrying cases and bags which it says contained slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s body parts.

The images shown on A-Haber television late Sunday feature three men carrying five suitcases and two large black bags into the home of the Saudi consul general in Istanbul.

The residence lies a short distance from the Saudi consulate where Khashoggi was murdered in October in a killing that has tested Riyadh’s relations with the West.

Citing unnamed Turkish sources, A-Haber said Khashoggi’s dismembered body was inside the cases and bags.

Khashoggi, a contributor to the Washington Post, was killed on October 2 shortly after entering the kingdom’s consulate in what Riyadh called a “rogue” operation.

The 59-year-old former Saudi insider turned critic was strangled before he was cut up into pieces by a team of 15 Saudis sent to Istanbul for the killing, according to Turkish officials, with media reports suggesting the parts were dissolved in acid.

The consulate and the residence were searched by the Turkish authorities in October along with several other locations but Khashoggi’s body has still not been found.

There has been speculation that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman ordered the hit but Riyadh has absolved the de facto leader of any blame.

Saudi Arabia has also repeatedly rejected Turkish demands to extradite suspects connected to the murder of the journalist, a critic of the crown prince.

A-Haber said the bags and suitcases were put into a minibus which travelled the short distance from the consulate to a garage at the residence. The men are then seen taking them inside.

AFP

Saudi Denies Being In Crisis Over Khashoggi’s Murder

 

Saudi Arabia’s new foreign minister struck a note of defiance Friday in the face of international outrage over critic Jamal Khashoggi’s murder, saying the kingdom was not in crisis.

“The issue of Jamal Khashoggi… really saddened us, all of us,” Ibrahim al-Assaf told AFP, a day after he was appointed a foreign minister in a government reshuffle.

“But all in all, we are not going through a crisis, we are going through a transformation.”

AFP

Saudi Arabia Slams US Senate Vote As ‘Interference’

Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman Al-Saud/ AFP

 

Saudi Arabia on Monday slammed as “interference” US Senate resolutions over its war in Yemen and critic Jamal Khashoggi’s murder, warning that the move could have repercussions on its strategic ties with Washington.

The Republican-controlled Senate voted on Thursday to end American military support for a Riyadh-led war in Yemen, and separately held Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman responsible for Khashoggi’s killing.

The largely symbolic vote dealt a fresh warning to President Donald Trump, who has staunchly backed the Saudi regime in the face of intense global outrage that analysts say has left the kingdom diplomatically weakened.

“The kingdom condemns the latest position of the US Senate that was based on unsubstantiated allegations and rejects the blatant interference in its internal affairs,” the foreign ministry said in a statement released by the official Saudi Press Agency.

On the Yemen measure, which more broadly attacks the president’s prerogative to launch military action, 49 Democrats or their allies voted in favour, along with seven Republicans, while another three Republicans abstained.

The Senate also approved a resolution condemning Khashoggi’s murder and calling Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, “responsible” for it.

The Saudi ministry warned that the kingdom would not tolerate any “disrespect” of its rulers.

“This position by the US Senate sends the wrong messages to all those who want to cause a rift in Saudi-US relationship,” the ministry said.

“The kingdom hopes that it is not drawn into domestic political debates in the US to avoid any… significant negative impact on this important strategic relationship.”

‘Vulnerable to pressure’ 

A day after the Senate vote, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo again defended US ties with Saudi Arabia on national security grounds, saying the kingdom was a bulwark against common foe Iran.

The Senate resolution acknowledged the US-Saudi ties were “important” but called on Riyadh to “moderate its increasingly erratic foreign policy”.

“Prince Mohammed and Saudi Arabia, even prior to the introduction of the Senate resolution, were discovering that the Khashoggi killing had weakened the kingdom internationally and had made it more vulnerable to pressure,” said James Dorsey, a Middle East expert at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore.

The resolutions cannot be debated in the House of Representatives before January, and would likely be vetoed in any case by Trump.

But the Senate votes send a strong message to the White House over anger on both sides of the aisle towards Riyadh.

Khashoggi, a Saudi contributor to the Washington Post, was killed on October 2 shortly after entering the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul in what Riyadh called a “rogue” operation.

The murder has tarnished Riyadh’s international reputation, and Western countries including the United States, France and Canada have placed sanctions on nearly 20 Saudi nationals.

UN chief Antonio Guterres on Sunday called for a “credible” probe into the murder.

Anger at the human cost of the war in Yemen has also prompted a harder line in Congress about the US military’s role in backing Saudi-led coalition strikes against Huthi rebels.

Since the coalition launched its campaign in 2015, the conflict has killed nearly 10,000 people, according to the World Health Organization. But some rights groups believe the toll to be far higher.

AFP

‘I Can’t Breathe’ Were Khashoggi’s Final Words – Report

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

Jamal Khashoggi’s final words were “I can’t breathe,” CNN said on Sunday, citing a source who has read the transcript of an audio tape of the final moments before the journalist’s murder.

The source told the US network the transcript made clear the killing was premeditated and suggests several phone calls were made to give briefings on the progress.

CNN said Turkish officials believe those calls were made to top officials in Riyadh.

Khashoggi, a Saudi contributor to The Washington Post, was killed shortly after entering the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul on October 2.

The transcript of the gruesome recording includes descriptions of Khashoggi struggling against his murderers, CNN said, and references sounds of the dissident journalist’s body “being dismembered by a saw.”

The original transcript was prepared by Turkish intelligence services, and CNN said its source read a translation version and was briefed on the probe into the journalist’s death.

Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister on Sunday meanwhile rejected demands to extradite suspects connected to the murder of Khashoggi as sought by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Erdogan has repeatedly called on Saudi Arabia to hand over suspects in the killing. According to Turkey, a 15-member Saudi team was sent to Istanbul to kill Khashoggi.

Saudi Arabia, however, holds that it was a “rogue” operation gone wrong — a claim undercut by the reported transcript.

For his part US President Donald Trump has refrained from blaming Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, even though the CIA report concluded that he ordered the assassination.

The murder has damaged Riyadh’s international reputation and Western countries including the United States, France, and Canada have placed sanctions on nearly 20 Saudi nationals.

AFP

Saudis Reject Extraditions To Turkey Over Khashoggi Murder

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

 

Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister on Sunday rejected demands to extradite suspects connected to the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi as sought by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

“We do not extradite our citizens,” Adel al-Jubeir told a news conference at the end of a summit of Gulf Cooperation Council states.

“It’s interesting to me that a country that would not provide us with information within a legal format… would issue arrest warrants.”

AFP