The CIA released the Khashoggi murder report on Feb 26. It implicated Saudi crown prince, Muhammad Bin Salman (MBS) and his subordinates for the heinous crime. The US-based Saudi-dissident journalist, Jamal Khashoggi was killed on 2nd October 2018 at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. His fiancé and fellow dissidents have been trying to expose a global cover-up since.
New US President Joe Biden appeared to be critical of Saudi Arabia (KSA) during his campaign trail. He once said that Saudi Arabia is a “pariah” state and must pay for its human rights violations. Two years ago, the CIA concluded that the prince was the one who gave orders to capture or kill Jamal. However, the US relations with KSA got even stronger after that. Now the new president has also refused to immediately take action against the accused leader.
Tempering Khashoggi Murder Report Before Release
Reportedly, the agency revised the unclassified document by removing three names, claiming that they were entered accidentally. First, there were 21 names in the list which the US was supposed to sanction but removed three before publication. The US only sanctioned 18 names including the security detail for the Saudi crown prince known as Tiger Squad.
He has reportedly imposed some sanctions on him that did not seem like any asset freeze or travel ban. They looked more like a ‘Khashoggi ban’ that imposed visa restrictions on people who criticize dissidents working abroad. He did not make it clear if these ‘people’ included the leaders of the country or not. The reason for Joe Biden to do this after actively campaigning against MBS is bothering many. KSA has criticized the conclusions of the murder report and said it is based on false assessment.
Ignoring KSA’s Human Rights Violations
The world is reacting furiously to the Khashoggi murder report because the accused is running free. There have been too many human rights violations by KSA and Biden administration has also seemingly turned back from its aggressive stance. It is sad because the leaders represent entire nations and right now the US does not seem a little bit bothered by Khashoggi’s murder and MBS’s involvement.
Biden made it clear that his administration would not provide KSA with any weapons. In his first speech as a president, he announced to end offensive support for Saudi-Arabia in Yemen, where the US and KSA have created the world’s largest humanitarian crises. The US is complacent in a bloody war led by KSA, that has killed more than 200,000 people. Later, he canceled 800 million USD worth of two weapon-deals including precision-guided bombs. Donald Trump rushed these deals with KSA while in office.
For The Sake Of Diplomacy
While threatening to sanction, Biden also promised to help KSA defend itself against the Houthi rebels of Yemen. They have allegedly attacked Saudi territories with missiles and drones. By help, Biden surely meant that it will either provide weapons for KSA to fight against Houthi. This stance has rendered Biden’s threat of sanctioning KSA, baseless. 41 members of the congress including both parties, Republicans, and Democrats have asked Biden to explain how he will distinguish between offensive and defensive weapons.
Two days after the release of report, Saudi reportedly intercepted another ballistic missile over the capital. Houthis have been getting stronger since taking over Yemen in 2014 and causing the government to flee. It has forced Saudi and its allies (including US) to intervene and stop Houthi from violating some of the richest oil fields in Marib. Yemeni government has a stronghold over this area, but Houthi attacks are getting deadlier each day.
The rebels are supposedly backed by Iran, which is a common enemy for the US and KSA. It does not seem convincing that the US is sanctioning everything else except the murderer of Jamal Khashoggi. Experts believe that both countries cannot jeopardize their diplomatic ties in the favor of Iran. Popular opinion suggests that both countries are complacent in delaying the investigation of the Khashoggi murder.