US intelligence report reveals Saudi Crown Prince approved operation that killed Jamal Khashoggi

The United States has imposed sanctions on some of those involved but spared the crown prince himself in an effort to preserve relations with the Gulf kingdom.

Created On: Mar 1, 2021 16:31 ISTModified On: Mar 1, 2021 16:32 IST
US President Joe Biden

According to a US intelligence report released on February 26, 2021, Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman approved an operation to capture or kill murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.

The United States has imposed sanctions on some of those involved but spared the crown prince himself in an effort to preserve relations with the Gulf kingdom.

The Saudi government issued a statement rejecting the US report’s findings and repeating its previous statements that Khashoggi’s killing was a heinous crime by a rogue group, denying any involvement by the crown prince. 

Who was Jamal Khashoggi?

Jamal Khashoggi was a Saudi Arabian journalist living in the US, who wrote opinion columns for the Washington Post that were critical of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s policies. He was killed by a team of operatives linked to the Saudi Prince in the Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul.

US response 

While preserving ties to the 35-year-old crown prince, US President Joe Biden tried to make clear that killings of political opponents were not acceptable to the United States. 

Biden stated that he had told Saudi King Salman that Saudi Arabia has to tackle human rights abuses as a precondition to dealing with the United States. He made it clear that the rules are changing, and that the US will be announcing significant changes. 

Among the punitive steps taken, the United States imposed a visa ban on almost 76 Saudis believed to be involved in the Khashoggi killing on February 26 and placed sanctions on others, including Saudi Arabia’s former deputy head of General Intelligence Presidency and Saudi Arabia’s Rapid Intervention Force (RIF). The sanctions will freeze their US assets and bar Americans from dealing with them.

As per US officials, the nation is also considering cancelling arms sales to Saudi Arabia that pose human rights concerns and limiting future sales to “defensive” weapons, as it reassesses its relationship with the kingdom and its role in the Yemen war.

The US state department said it would not tolerate those who threaten or assault activists, dissidents and journalists on behalf of foreign governments.

Biden in fact reversed his predecessor Donald Trump’s refusal to release the report in defiance of a 2019 law. He said that the report had been sitting there, the last administration wouldn’t even release it. 

Background

Jamal Khashoggi was living in self-imposed exile in Virginia in the United States. He was called to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul for a document that he required to marry his Turkish fiancée on October 2, 2018. 

He was killed there and his body was dismembered. His remains have not been found. Saudi Arabia stated that Khashoggi was killed in a “rogue” extradition operation that had gone wrong. Almost 21 people were arrested for the killing and five senior officials, including Asiri and senior MbS aide Saud al-Qahtani, were fired.

In January 2019, 11 people were placed on trial and 5 were given death sentences, which were later converted into 20 years of jail term after they were forgiven by Khashoggi’s family. Three others were given jail terms. Qahtani was investigated but not charged and Asiri was acquitted “due to insufficient evidence.” 

Saudi Arabia is one of the world’s top oil exporters for decades and an important US ally against common foe Iran.

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एग्जाम की तैयारी के लिए ऐप पर वीकली टेस्ट लें और दूसरों के साथ प्रतिस्पर्धा करें। डाउनलोड करें करेंट अफेयर्स ऐप

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