Assassination of Jamal Khashoggi: What is the reason for America’s growing leniency for Muhammad bin Salman?
Assassination of Jamal Khashoggi: What is the reason for America’s growing leniency for Muhammad bin Salman?

Assassination of Jamal Khashoggi: What is the reason for America’s growing leniency for Muhammad bin Salman?

 

Before assuming the presidency, Joe Biden called Saudi Arabia an “excluded” country for its involvement in the brutal assassination of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashkiji. As president, his administration released a US intelligence report in February that raised concerns about the Saudi Crown Prince’s assassination.

The Saudi Crown Prince, known as MBS, has denied the allegations. Six months after assuming the presidency, the Biden administration has welcomed Muhammad bin Salman’s younger brother and Saudi Deputy Defense Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman to the country on a red carpet.

This is the first visit to the United States by a high-ranking Saudi official since the assassination of Khashoggi in October 2018.

“The Saudi government has made a concerted effort to improve the image of Muhammad bin Salman and Saudi Arabia,” said Michael Stephens, an associate fellow at London’s think tank Royal United Services Institute.

“The Saudi government is focusing on economic opportunities, while the earlier statement on security in the region is weakening,” he said.

So does this mean that Muhammad bin Salman has been pardoned by the Western powers?

Absolutely not, and human rights groups and the United Nations in particular will continue to call for a full and independent inquiry into Khashkji’s assassination, including Muhammad bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s most powerful man.

 

It may be recalled that 15 Saudi government officials flew from Riyadh to Istanbul in 2018, where they waited for the arrival of Jamal bin Khashoggi, a critic of Muhammad bin Salman.

As they stepped into the Saudi consulate, they ran over them, strangled them, and dismembered them. Prince Khalid bin Salman, who was welcomed to the United States last week, was Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Washington in 2018.

He initially dismissed fears that Khashoggi had been assassinated at the Saudi consulate, saying it was a “baseless and false” claim.

When Turkey secretly monitored the Saudi consulate and told the world what actually happened there that day, the Saudi government had to back down.

He blamed a “private operation” of which the administration was unaware and sentenced several junior officers in a secret case.

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