US has leverage on Saudis to reveal Khashoggi case: NYT

By Umar Farooq

WASHINGTON (AA) – A month and a half after the Jamal Khashoggi's killing, punishments were handed to some individuals responsible, but Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has walked away unscathed, The New York Times said Friday.

In an opinion piece, The Times wrote that with the Saudi public prosecutor seeking the death penalty against five of the suspects involved in the crime, and the U.S. imposing sanctions on the 17 suspects involved, Washington seems to be ready to buy the latest narrative provided by the Saudis.

Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist and columnist for The Washington Post, went missing after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.

With the world watching, after initially saying he had left the consulate alive, weeks later the Saudi administration admitted he was killed there.

Investigation of the incident suggests a special hit squad came to the consulate, scouted out Istanbul’s Belgrad Forest, and tried to cover up evidence at the consulate building.

The international community refused to accept the Saudis’ claim that the incident was not a premeditated murder.

"Whether the latest version will put the Khashoggi issue to rest remains to be seen," The Times said.

Turkey does not seem to buy the latest narrative provided by the Saudis, and has been putting pressure on the kingdom.

"I want to say that I find some explanations [of the prosecutor’s office] unsatisfying," Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said at a conference. "We find the steps taken positive but inadequate."

The newspaper noted that while the U.S. has supported many despotic regimes in the past, bin Salman's rule in Saudi Arabia has pushed too far on a number of issues, including the war in Yemen, blockading Qatar, and detaining Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

"Through most of his misrule, Prince Mohammed continued to enjoy the favor of President Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner," The Times said. "They saw the young prince as an ally, along with Israel, against Iran, and as a buyer of limitless American arms."

The newspaper argued that the U.S. now has leverage over the Saudis, and they must use this leverage to reveal the truth about how Khashoggi died, end the war in Yemen, repair its relations with Qatar, stabilize oil prices and possibly "replace the crown prince with a less impulsive and dangerous heir."

"Any such demands, however, would be hypocrisy if not accompanied by an end to the kingdom’s brazen flouting of fundamental human rights," The Times added. "These did not begin with the murder of Mr. Khashoggi, but that’s where they, and American complicity, must end."

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