Leading senators push towards deal targeting Saudi Arabia

Mohammed bin Salman center meets with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis not

Mohammed bin Salman center meets with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis not

Top senators eager to target Saudi Arabia over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi plan to meet Thursday to try to cut a bipartisan deal curtailing United States involvement in the war in Yemen, suspend arms sales with the Saudi kingdom and rebuke the crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman.

USA officials have said that the Central Intelligence Agency has concluded that Prince Mohammed ordered the October 2 killing.

The fierce spat between the White House and Congress has fueled new levels of support for a resolution that would demand an end to US involvement in the war in Yemen-a push that could trigger an unprecedented showdown over the USA government's authority to wage war. Lindsey Graham (SC) disagreed. Graham asserts pretty blatantly that Trump himself is tied up in the killing to some extent.

Saudi Arabia has sought to distance Prince Mohammed from the murder and has received support from the administration of US President Donald Trump, which has downplayed possible links between the crown prince and what happened to Khashoggi. "And I think if the Senate can make that statement, it puts us on a new path to trying to have a relationship with Saudi Arabia that is beneficial and sustainable".

"The current construct is not sustainable", Graham added.

In the Khasoggi case, Trump has repeatedly avoided rebuking Saudi Arabia, pointing to the economic benefits of US arms sales to Saudi Arabia and Riyadh's role in preventing a spike in oil prices. The CIA believes a Saudi hit squad killed him there on the crown prince's instructions - one of them reportedly using a bone saw.

The Oscar-awarded actor, who is also known for his political and social activism, took footage in front of Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul where Khashoggi was murdered.

Erdogan has said that solving the Khashoggi killing would also be in the interest of the Saudi monarchy.

Ahmad Al-Basha  AFP  Getty ImagesA woman holds a child suffering from malnutrition at a treatment center in a hospital in Taez Yemen Nov. 21 2018
Ahmad Al-Basha AFP Getty ImagesA woman holds a child suffering from malnutrition at a treatment center in a hospital in Taez Yemen Nov. 21 2018

Prosecutor's say there is "strong suspicion" that royal court adviser chief Saud al-Qahtani and deputy head of intelligence Ahmed al-Asiri were among the planners of the October 2 murder at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. "I can foresee a circumstance where a bunch of amendments might be voted down and at some point, [Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's] got to move to a vote on the underlying resolution", Murphy said. His killing sparked worldwide outrage over the kingdom's heavy-handed tactics and renewed attention to the Saudi-led war in Yemen. Human rights groups say the war is wreaking havoc on the country and subjecting civilians to indiscriminate bombing.

President Trump has equivocated about assigning blame for Khashoggi's killing, frustrating lawmakers from both parties.

"It could very well be that the crown prince had knowledge of this tragic event", Trump said in a lengthy statement November 20.

The president has touted Saudi arms deals worth billions of dollars to the USA and recently thanked Saudi Arabia for plunging oil prices. "That might be the real policy question".

The United States now provides arms shipments and logistical support including intelligence and targeting assistance to the Saudi-led coalition, which includes the United Arab Emirates and other Arab countries.

Riyadh has since detained 21 people over the murder.

"If our government knows that Saudi leaders were involved in the murder of a United States resident, why shouldn't the public know this?"

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