Citing U.S. & Israeli Interests, Trump Refuses To Sever Saudi Ties Over Khashoggi Murder
United States President Donald Trump stressed that the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi will not result in a downgrading of ties with Riyadh. “The United States intends to remain a steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia to ensure the interests of our country, Israel and all other partners in the region,” the American leader wrote in a statement. The assertion comes amid widespread international pressure on the House of Saud, which has denied sanctioning Khashoggi’s killing on October 2 in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and instead blamed the incident on “rogue” operatives. Last week, a bipartisan group of U.S. senators introduced legislation calling for the suspension of weapons sales to the Sunni Muslim Kingdom and the mandatory sanctioning of those responsible for Khashoggi’s death. For his part, President Trump has to date refrained from directly implicating Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, despite a CIA assessment that Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler gave the order or at the very least was in the know. The U.S. administration views Riyadh, along with the Jewish state, as an integral partner in the effort to curb Iran’s regional expansionism and prevent its nuclearization. Bin Salman’s backing also is considered key to the successful roll-out of President Trump’s highly-anticipated Israeli-Palestinian peace plan.