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World U.S. says Saudi crown prince approved Khashoggi killing, imposes visa restrictions on 76 Saudis

08:25  27 february  2021
08:25  27 february  2021 Source:   msn.com

Release of intelligence report on Khashoggi killing could push already strained U.S.-Saudi relations to new lows

  Release of intelligence report on Khashoggi killing could push already strained U.S.-Saudi relations to new lows The Biden administration had promised to release a summary of intelligence findings that conclude the Saudi crown prince ordered the 2018 slaying of the journalist. The report, an unclassified summary of findings across the intelligence community produced by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), will be made public as early as next week, according to people familiar with the matter.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman approved an operation to capture or kill journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018 in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, a U . S . intelligence report says . The Office of the Director of National Intelligence cited the crown prince ' s control of decision-making in Saudi Arabia. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken imposed visa restrictions on 76 Saudi individuals whom he said are "believed to have been engaged in threatening dissidents overseas, including but not limited to the Khashoggi killing ." The Biden administration has been reviewing U . S .- Saudi relations, which were

Riyadh eventually admitted that Khashoggi was killed in a “rogue” extradition operation gone wrong, but it denied any involvement by the crown prince . Five men given the death penalty for the murder had their sentences commuted to 20 years in prison after being forgiven by Khashoggi ’ s family. Biden administration officials say the decisions on sanctions and visa bans will send a clear message about how the United States wants to see the future U . S .- Saudi relationship. It will also still allow the United States to preserve a working relationship with the crown prince , the country’ s 35-year-old de facto

  • Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman approved an operation to capture or kill journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018 in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, a U.S. intelligence report says.
  • The Office of the Director of National Intelligence cited the crown prince's control of decision-making in Saudi Arabia.
  • Secretary of State Anthony Blinken imposed visa restrictions on 76 Saudi individuals whom he said are "believed to have been engaged in threatening dissidents overseas, including but not limited to the Khashoggi killing."
  • The Biden administration has been reviewing U.S.-Saudi relations, which were particularly close under former President Donald Trump.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman approved an operation to capture or kill journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018, according to a U.S. intelligence report that could further strain U.S.-Saudi relations as the White House reassesses ties with Riyadh.

Biden speaks with Saudi king ahead of release of Khashoggi report

  Biden speaks with Saudi king ahead of release of Khashoggi report President Biden on Thursday spoke with Saudi King Salman ahead of the anticipated release of a U.S. intelligence report on the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi that is expected to implicate the king's son, the Saudi crown prince.The White House readout of the call made no mention of Khashoggi, but said the two leaders "affirmed the importance the United States places on universal human rights and the rule of law.""The President told KingThe White House readout of the call made no mention of Khashoggi, but said the two leaders "affirmed the importance the United States places on universal human rights and the rule of law.

The Biden administration is identifying 76 Saudi Arabian individuals who may be subject to sanctions under what it’ s calling its new “ Khashoggi policy” as it looks to impose accountability over the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018. In a fact sheet sent to U . S . lawmakers but not yet released, the State Department said it was announcing a new policy “to impose visa restrictions on individuals who, acting on behalf of a foreign government, are believed to have been directly engaged in serious, extraterritorial counter-dissident activities,” according to a copy obtained by

Saudi Arabia’ s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman signed off on the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi , according to a U . S . intelligence report released Friday. “We assess that Saudi Arabia’ s Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman approved an operation in Istanbul, Turkey, to “The Crown Prince viewed Khashoggi as a threat to the Kingdom and broadly supported using violent measures if necessary to silence him,” the report said . “Although Saudi officials had pre-planned an unspecified operation against Khashoggi we do not know how far in advance Saudi officials decided

The report by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, released Friday, cited the crown prince's control of decision-making in Saudi Arabia as well as the involvement of a key advisor and members of the prince's protective detail in the operation that killed Khashoggi, a critic of the royal family.

Also Friday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken imposed visa restrictions on 76 Saudi individuals whom are "believed to have been engaged in threatening dissidents overseas, including but not limited to the Khashoggi killing." A State Department spokesperson would not provide the names of those individuals, saying visa records are confidential under U.S. law.

However, The New York Times reported that the Biden administration would not penalize the crown prince for Khashoggi's killing. The White House decided such action would have too high a cost on U.S.-Saudi cooperation in the areas of counterterrorism and confronting Iran, according to the Times.

Saudi Crown Prince Approved Plan for Khashoggi Death, U.S. Finds

  Saudi Crown Prince Approved Plan for Khashoggi Death, U.S. Finds Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman signed off on the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, according to a U.S. intelligence report released Friday. © Photographer: Nicolas Asfouri/Getty Images Prince Mohammed bin Salman “We assess that Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman approved an operation in Istanbul, Turkey to capture or kill Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi,” the report concluded. The report builds on classified intelligence from the CIA and other agencies after Khashoggi’s murder in October 2018 inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Riyadh eventually admitted that Khashoggi was killed in a “rogue” extradition operation gone wrong, but it denied any involvement by the crown prince . Five men given the death penalty for the murder had their sentences commuted to 20 years in prison after being forgiven by Khashoggi ’ s family. Biden administration officials say the decisions on sanctions and visa bans will send a clear message about how the United States wants to see the future U . S .- Saudi relationship. It will also still allow the United States to preserve a working relationship with the crown prince , the country’ s 35-year-old de facto

The Saudis say that the team acted on its own and that the crown prince was not involved. Eight men were convicted in a trial that international observers called a farce; five got the death penalty. Their sentences were commuted to 20 years after they were allegedly forgiven by Khashoggi ' s relatives. The Biden administration is set to release a new public report that finds Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman approved the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018. This will mark a new chapter in  U . S .- Saudi relations after the Trump administration would not confirm the

Blinken said the restrictions are part of a new "Khashoggi Ban" that will bar visas for people acting on behalf of a foreign government who are believed to have engaged in "serious, extraterritorial counter-dissident activities."

When asked why the crown prince was not among those facing punishment, Blinken emphasized the importance U.S. interests and not rupturing relations with Saudi Arabia.

"And so what we've done by the actions that we've taken is really not to rupture the relationship but to recalibrate to be more in line with our interests and our values," Blinken told reporters at a press conference. "And I think that we have to understand as well that this is bigger than any one person."

The Treasury Department on Friday imposed sanctions on the crown prince's security detail, known as the Rapid Intervention Force. It also sanctioned the former deputy head of the kingdom's intelligence service, Ahmad Hassan Mohammed al-Asiri, who is accused of being a ringleader in the plot.

Saudi crown prince 'approved' Khashoggi murder operation: US intel report

  Saudi crown prince 'approved' Khashoggi murder operation: US intel report The U.S. on Friday released a declassified intelligence report finding that the Saudi crown prince 'approved' an operation to capture or kill journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The brutal killing has roiled the United States' longstanding ties with Saudi Arabia, and President Joe Biden has vowed to recalibrate the relationship after his predecessor Donald Trump shielded the kingdom from U.S. pressure.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman approved of an operation to capture or kill dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi , who was murdered in 2018, according to a declassified intelligence assessment released on Friday in a manner choreographed to limit damage The Biden administration will announce sanctions and visa bans on Friday targeting Saudi Arabian citizens over the Khashoggi killing , although it will not impose sanctions on the crown prince , U . S . officials said . As it reasseses relations with one of its closest Arab allies, the United States is also

"We assess that Saudi Arabia' s Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman approved an operation in Istanbul, Turkey to capture or kill Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi ," the report' s executive summary states. "We base this assessment on the Crown Prince ' s control of decision-making in the Kingdom Blinken said in a statement that the ban, which can cover family members as well, would immediately be applied to 76 Saudi individuals "believed to have been engaged in threatening dissidents overseas, including but not limited to the Khashoggi killing ." The Treasury Department followed with sanctions

'Absolute control'

The ODNI report noted that, "Since 2017, the Crown Prince has had absolute control of the Kingdom's security and intelligence organizations, making it highly unlikely that Saudi officials would have carried out an operation of this nature without the Crown Prince's authorization."

The Saudi government, in a statement Friday, rejected the report's conclusions, saying it contained erroneous information. Riyadh condemned Khashoggi's killing as a violation of the kingdom's laws and values, blaming his death on a rogue group.

The CIA-led assessment, which until now had been classified, comes as President Joe Biden aims to reshape the U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia after years in which the Trump administration ignored the kingdom's human rights abuses despite condemnation in Congress and at the United Nations.

The Trump administration had refused to provide a report to Congress in 2019 on who was responsible for Khashoggi's death. Lawmakers had requested the report under the Magnitsky Act, which would have required sanctions against those responsible for the killing.

Biden will not sanction MBS over Khashoggi's killing despite US report implicating the Saudi leader in the murder

  Biden will not sanction MBS over Khashoggi's killing despite US report implicating the Saudi leader in the murder Other than being downgraded in the eyes of the US under Biden, it's unclear what other consequences, if any, MBS will face over Khashoggi's killing.The Treasury Department on Friday unveiled sanctions against General Ahmed al-Asiri, former deputy head of the Saudi intelligence services, and the Saudi Rapid Intervention Force over connections to the Khashoggi killing.

Khashoggi, a 59-year-old U.S. resident and Washington Post columnist, entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, 2018, and never left.

He was killed by a group of assassins, who then dismembered his body. His remains were never recovered.

Jamal Khashoggi standing in front of a television screen: Robert Mahoney, Deputy Executive for the Committee to Protect Journalists, speaks during a news conference to issue an appeal to the UN on the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the United Nations in New York, U.S., October 18, 2018. © Provided by CNBC Robert Mahoney, Deputy Executive for the Committee to Protect Journalists, speaks during a news conference to issue an appeal to the UN on the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the United Nations in New York, U.S., October 18, 2018.

"The Crown Prince viewed Khashoggi as a threat to the Kingdom and broadly supported using violent measures if necessary to silence him," the ODNI report said.

"Although Saudi officials had pre-planned an unspecified operation against Khashoggi we do not know how far in advance Saudi officials decided to harm him."

Recalibrating relations

Rep. Adam Schiff, the California Democrat who is chairman of the House intel committee, on Friday called for the White House to impose "serious repercussions against all the responsible parties it has identified" for Khashoggi's killing and to reassess the U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia in the wake of the intelligence report.

"We must ensure that if foreign governments target journalists simply for doing their jobs, they are not immune to serious repercussions and sanctions, because restoring confidence in American leadership requires we act in accordance with the values that have long set America apart," Schiff said.

Biden tightens course against Riyadh: Crown Prince bin Salman falls into political isolation

 Biden tightens course against Riyadh: Crown Prince bin Salman falls into political isolation The USA blames Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince for the murder of the critic Khashoggi. This is a turning point in the relationship that has been close so far. © Photo: imago images / ITAR-TASS Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman is feeling the effects of a new US foreign policy. It's only four pages. But they have it all.

"The Administration should take further steps to diminish the United States' reliance on Riyadh and reinforce that our partnership with the Kingdom is a not a blank check," he added.

In a diplomatic rebuke to the crown prince, the White House made clear this week that Biden does not view the 35-year-old bin Salman as his counterpart and will instead conduct relations through his aging father, King Salman. Bin Salman has been the public face of the kingdom since becoming crown prince in 2017.

The Trump administration conducted relations through the crown prince, who maintained close personal ties with members of the Trump family, particularly former President Donald Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday that, "On Saudi Arabia I would say we've made clear from the beginning that we are going to recalibrate our relationship with Saudi Arabia."

On Thursday, Biden in his first call with the 85-year-old king "affirmed the importance the United States places on universal human rights and the rule of law," according to a readout from the White House.

Biden also told the king that he would "work to make the bilateral relationship as strong and transparent as possible," the White House said. Khashoggi's name was not mentioned in the readout.

Biden's review of relations with Saudi Arabia is part of a broader U.S. foreign policy shift in the Middle East. The president has ended U.S. support for Saudi Arabia's war in Yemen while seeking to return to the negotiating table with Iran, Riyadh's enemy, over its nuclear program.

Overnight Defense: White House defends not punishing MBS after Khashoggi report | Pentagon says one militant killed in Syria strike | $125M military aid package for Ukraine announced

  Overnight Defense: White House defends not punishing MBS after Khashoggi report | Pentagon says one militant killed in Syria strike | $125M military aid package for Ukraine announced Happy Monday and welcome to Overnight Defense. I'm Rebecca Kheel, and here's your nightly guide to the latest developments at the Pentagon, on Capitol Hill and beyond. CLICK HERE to subscribe to the newsletter.3 stories tonight1) THE TOPLINE: Despite publicly releasing the U.S. intelligence assessment that the Saudi crown prince ordered the operation that killed journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the Biden administration isn't penalizing the3 stories tonight...

Biden on Thursday also "discussed regional security" in his call with King Salman, noting his administration's efforts to end the war in Yemen "and the U.S. commitment to help Saudi Arabia defend its territory as it faces attacks from Iranian-aligned groups," the White House readout said.

Biden and the king also "affirmed the historic nature of the relationship and agreed to work together on mutual issues of concern and interest," according to the White House.

Saudi denials and Trump's doubts

Saudi authorities had at first denied any knowledge of Khashoggi's death, and later claimed the journalist got into a fight inside the consulate and died in the clash. Saudi authorities eventually admitted Khashoggi was killed in a "rogue operation," while denying that the crown prince was implicated.

A United Nations investigator concluded in a June 2019 report that Khashoggi was "the victim of a deliberate, premeditated execution, an extrajudicial killing for which the state of Saudi Arabia is responsible under international human rights law."

A Saudi court sentenced five people to death, three to prison and exonerated three others. The U.N. special rapporteur for extrajudicial executions, Agnes Callamard, condemned the verdict as a "mockery" of justice

Trump sought to cast doubt publicly about the crown prince's involvement in Khashoggi's death, even after multiple outlets reported that the CIA concluded bin Salman himself ordered the journalist's killing. Trump said the CIA had "nothing definitive" while asserting that the oil-rich kingdom would remain a "steadfast partner"of the U.S.

"It could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event – maybe he did and maybe he didn't!" Trump said less than two months after Khashoggi's death. Trump's conciliatory stance contrasted sharply with outrage from members of Congress and the media over the killing of Khashoggi.

However, the Treasury Department under Trump ultimately sanctioned 17 individuals for their alleged role in the killing of Khashoggi.

Trump made Saudi Arabia his first stop in the Middle East when he made his debut visit to the region in 2017. The kingdom rolled out the red carpet for the former reality star.

The Trump administration leveraged its ties with Gulf monarchies to normalize relations between Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

The former president also vetoed an effort by Congress to block billions of dollars in arms sales to Saudi Arabia, as well as the UAE, and an attempt to end U.S. involvement in the war in Yemen.

Despite Khashoggi's Murder, America Must Still Choose: Saudis or Iran? | Opinion .
Simply put, the United States has a binary choice in the Persian Gulf. The U.S. can swallow hard and stick with MBS and thereby support an unsavory ally who is nevertheless a force for internal moderation, acceptance of Israel and opposition to Iranian aggression. Or it can ditch the Saudis and thereby strengthen their Iranian enemies, who pose a direct threat to not just American interests, but to the stability of every moderate Arab regime in the region as well as to Israel (which Tehran has pledged to annihilate).

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