Saudi Arabia hits back after US Senate blames Crown Prince for Khashoggi killing



December 17, 2018 20:46:57

Riyadh has delivered a clear rebuke to Washington after the US Senate called for an end to military support for the war in Yemen and blamed Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Key points:

  • The Saudis say the Senate’s claims are unsubstantiated
  • The House of Representatives will block any further action against Saudi Arabia
  • The Saudis added that they don’t want to be drawn into US political debates

While the votes in the Senate last week caught global attention, the decision will remain largely symbolic.

To become law, they would need to pass the House of Representatives, whose Republican leaders have blocked any legislation intended to rebuke the Saudis.

The Saudis have said the claims against the Crown Prince are unsubstantiated.

“The kingdom categorically rejects any interference in its internal affairs, any and all accusations, in any manner, that disrespect its leadership … and any attempts to undermine its sovereignty or diminish its stature,” a foreign ministry statement said.

Khashoggi, a royal insider who became a critic of Prince Mohammed and began writing for The Washington Post after moving to the US last year, was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in early October.

Saudi officials have rejected accusations that the Crown Prince ordered his death.

Murder fallout continues to dog House of Saud

The murder has sparked global outrage and damaged the international reputation of 33-year-old Prince Mohammed, the kingdom’s de facto leader, who is pushing economic and social changes in the world’s top oil exporter.

Saudi Arabia has also come under increased scrutiny for civilian deaths and a humanitarian crisis in Yemen, where it support the internationally-recognised Government against Iranian-aligned Houthis in a nearly four-year-old civil war.

At UN-mediated talks in Sweden last week, the warring parties agreed to a local ceasefire to try to avert more bloodshed in the port of Hodeidah, which is vital for food and aid supplies.

Opponents of the Senate resolutions want to maintain the relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia, which they consider an essential counterweight in the Middle East to Iran.

Administration officials also see Saudi support as a linchpin for an Israeli-Palestinian peace plan yet to be disclosed by the Trump administration.

And they have argued that ending US support could complicate Yemen peace efforts.

The Saudi statement said the kingdom “hopes that it is not drawn into domestic political debates in the United States of America, to avoid any ramifications on the ties between the two countries that could have significant negative impacts on this important strategic relationship”.








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