Kashuji murder report reveals "recalibration" of US-Saudi relations
US intelligence agencies released an investigation report on the murder of Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi on the 26th, and determined that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed approved the killing of Khashoggi.
U.S. President Joseph Biden said on the same day that the U.S. side will hold those responsible for "human rights violations" and announced that "major changes" involving bilateral relations will be announced soon.
The Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs "refuses to accept" the US report, accusing it of being full of false information.
However, Saudi Arabia emphasized the maintenance of the basis of bilateral strategic partnership.
[U.S. "play carefully"]
[U.S. "play carefully"]
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence of the United States released a four-page report on the 26th, stating that the Saudi Crown Prince “supports the use of violence to silence dissidents outside Saudi Arabia, including Kashuji”.
The report analyzes that “The Saudi Crown Prince has absolute control over Saudi security and intelligence agencies since 2017, and it is unlikely that many Saudi officials will act without the Crown Prince’s authorization.”
The U.S. State Department announced shortly after the report was made public that the 76 Saudi citizens involved in the killing of Khashoggi were prohibited from entering the United States.
On the same day, the U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned Ahmed Asiri, the former deputy director of the Saudi Intelligence Directorate, and the Saudi "rapid intervention force" on the grounds of linking the killing of Khashoggi.
This fast-acting team is composed of Saudi royal guards and is directly assigned to the Saudi Crown Prince.
In an interview with a reporter from the US Global Television Network on the 26th, Biden said that he talked on the phone with Saudi King Salman the day before that “those who violated human rights will be held accountable” and that the US government will announce “major changes” on March 1. .
Reuters reported from several sources familiar with the Biden administration that as the United States reassesss its relations with Saudi Arabia, it is considering a suspension of offensive weapons sales to Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia is an important ally of the United States to contain Iran.
International media reported that the U.S. government’s declassification of the Kashuji murder report was the first public attack on the Saudi Crown Prince, but the Saudi Crown Prince was “excluded” from the sanctions list.
Although different from former President Donald Trump’s refusal to make investigations and reports public, Biden is still "playing cautiously" on human rights issues to pressure Saudi Arabia and maintain relations between the two countries.
U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Brinken said that the U.S. approach is not to "rupture" U.S.-Saudi relations, but to "recalibrate" bilateral relations based on national interests and values.
[Saudi Arabia leaves room]
[Saudi Arabia leaves room]
The Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the 26th designated the U.S. report to contain "unverified and inaccurate" conclusions that the Saudi side "cannot accept."
"Saudi Arabia rejects any violation of (national) leaders, sovereignty and judicial independence."
Saudi Arabia previously condemned the "heinous crime" that led to the killing of Kashuji, "strongly denies" that the crown prince was connected with the incident and stated that the government has taken necessary steps to ensure that such tragedies do not occur again.
Khashoggi, a columnist for the Washington Post, went to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey to go through formalities related to marriage on October 2, 2018, but was killed.
His body was mutilated and has not been found yet.
The Saudi government insisted that some intelligence agents "made their own way" and killed him when they sought to extradite Khashoggi back home.
Five of the persons involved in the case were sentenced to death in December 2019. They were later forgiven by Kashuji's family and their sentences were commuted to 20 years in prison.
At that time, Asiri, former deputy director of the General Intelligence Agency, and other important officials involved were released.
Reuters reported that a few minutes after the report was made public, some Saudi netizens posted messages on social media Twitter in support of the crown prince.
Some commentators also spoke out, arguing that the US report "has no conclusive evidence."
The Arabian Peninsula Foundation in Washington, the capital of the United States, focuses on research on Middle East issues and usually supports Saudi policy.
The former head of this think tank, Ali Shehabi, believes that the US report is "slim" and there is no strong evidence against the Saudi Crown Prince.
Saudi Arabia expressed anger over the report while still hoping to maintain bilateral relations.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that the partnership between Saudi Arabia and the United States is “strong and lasting” and that Saudi Arabia looks forward to maintaining the foundation of its bilateral strategic partnership.
(Bao Xuelin) (Xinhua News Agency Special Feature)