Mohamed Minshawi-Washington

The murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi has been a long and difficult test for President Donald Trump's administration under pressure from US institutions such as Congress and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), which carved out positions different from Trump's support for Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who intelligence reports said was behind the killing of the Saudi journalist.

The nature of Washington's strategic relationship with Riyadh and the personal dimension of the relationship between Trump and bin Salman have complicated the US response to the crime that has rocked Washington.

Despite the positions of Congress and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) that held bin Salman responsible for the killing of Khashoggi, Washington has so far imposed some financial sanctions, and banned the entry of 17 accused of planning and participation in the killing of Khashoggi.

"The US administration's failure to hold anyone responsible for Khashoggi's death does not come as a surprise. American leaders have long colluded with many allies, so it is no surprise that the killers imagine," Professor William Yomans of George Washington University told Al Jazeera Net. They will not be subjected to any American punishment or accountability. "

Trump offers Saudi purchases of US military equipment as he receives bin Salman in March 2018 (Reuters)

Trump against institutions
Despite Trump's support for the Saudi crown prince to the extent that he disregarded the voices of American legislators, politicians and journalists calling for a decisive position in line with American values ​​towards those responsible for the killing of Khashoggi, Trump was unable to absolve Bin Salman categorically under pressure from American institutions. .

Commenting on a secret US intelligence report leaked by senior officials to US newspapers blaming Mohammed bin Salman for the killing of Khashoggi, Trump said: "Our intelligence agencies continue to assess the information, but it is very likely that the Crown Prince was aware of this tragic event. Not knowing. "

Former Senate Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Bob Corker said he had "no doubt that the Saudi crown prince had ordered the killing of the Saudi journalist" and vowed that Washington would take "firm steps on the killing of Khashoggi and the war in Yemen."

Indeed, both houses of Congress have taken stronger positions toward Saudi Arabia, especially after CIA Director Gina Hasbel gave a closed-door briefing to Congress about Khashoggi's murder at his country's consulate in Istanbul.

The congressional positions were not limited to the limits of Khashoggi's assassination, but also included a comprehensive review of the wide-ranging relations between Washington and Riyadh.

Congress passed bills banning arms exports to Riyadh and ending US military support for the Arab coalition in the war in Yemen, but President Trump has vetoed the resolutions.

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Gray reasons
Trump justifies his pro-Riyadh stance that if he takes a different stance, the Saudis will go with their money to Russia and China.

But observers link Trump's position with Saudi Arabia's role in promoting the so-called "deal of the century" aimed at settling the Palestinian issue, where Riyadh can play a pressure role on the Palestinian Authority to accept the launch of the Trump team, which is overseen by his son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner.

Trump has explicitly pointed out that Saudi Arabia has a role to protect Israel, as his son-in-law Kushner said in an interview with Fox News when asked about Khashoggi's death. "We are still assessing the case of Khashoggi's murder, but the US administration is now focusing on the wider Middle East, where We all wish to reach an agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians. "

Bin Salman and Kushner have forged special ties, and US reports have suggested that economic interests between the Trump family and the Kushner family may have played a major role in determining the US position on Khashoggi's death.

Doug Bando, a former Reagan administration official and researcher at the Cato Institute in Washington, believes in an article in the American Conservatz that President Trump is determined to defend Saudi Arabia by all means.

Following the September 14 attack on Saudi Aramco's facilities, Trump offered to defend Saudi Arabia and sent more US troops to defend Riyadh from future attacks.

"Saudi Arabia does not share any American values ​​or common interests with America," Bando said.

Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi told Politico newspaper that the killing of Jamal Khashoggi was one of the reasons for her refusal to provide any support to Saudi Arabia to respond to the attacks of the two Aramco facilities.

Bernie Sanders: Saudi Arabia is acting at the behest of Trump, leading to disasters in Yemen (Reuters)

A big rift in relationships
Speaking to Johns Hopkins University, Senator Bernie Sanders stressed that `` Saudi Arabia is acting at the instigation and encouragement of Trump, which led to disasters in Yemen, in addition to the killing of Khashoggi, and other adventures of the Crown Prince who is reassuring to support the Trump administration unlimited. ''

On the other hand, while participating in a conference held by the Middle East Policy Council a few weeks ago in Washington, Dana Stroll, a former congressional official and now a researcher at the Washington Center for Near East Policy, said that "the relations between Washington and Riyadh are experiencing the most severe crises since 2001, or may go beyond the depth of the rift. There is an agreement in the anti-Saudi position between the two houses, the Senate and the House of Representatives, and between the two parties, the Democratic and the Republican. "

According to Stroll, the rift is not linked to the current administration. "The rift did not start with Trump and will not end with him. Passing the 2016 Justa Act under former President Barack Obama was a very important point in the history of relations.

Despite the support of the White House, Congress is considering a long list of issues against Saudi Arabia that include legislation on several issues, including:

* Weapon purchases
* The right to declare war to stop US military support for Saudi Arabia in Yemen
* Stop the war in Yemen
* Accounting for the killers of Jamal Khashoggi
* Political detainees inside Saudi Arabia
* Magnitsky's Law and Accountability for Khashoggi's Killing
* Export of peaceful nuclear technology

According to Strol, he is asking a question about Saudi Arabia, a question that Washington circles have not addressed throughout the history of relations since World War II: Is Saudi Arabia an element of stability for the Middle East or an element of tension and instability? Washington is currently using an unprecedented language toward Saudi Arabia that is not used with friends or allies.