White House defends decision not to punish Saudi crown prince, says U.S. does not sanction foreign leaders

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RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA – DECEMBER 10: (—-EDITORIAL USE ONLY MANDATORY CREDIT – “BANDAR ALGALOUD / SAUDI KINGDOM COUNCIL / HANDOUT” – NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS – DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS—-) Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammad bin Salman attends the fortieth Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) annual summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on December 10, 2019. (Photo by Bandar Algaloud / Saudi Kingdom Council / Handout/Anadolu Agency by way of Getty Images)

Anadolu Agency

WASHINGTON – The White House on Sunday defended its decision to not goal Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman after a U.S. intelligence report linked the royal to the 2018 murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

“Historically and even in recent history, Democratic and Republican administrations, there have not been sanctions put in place for the leaders of foreign governments where we have diplomatic relations and even where we don’t have diplomatic relations,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki mentioned throughout an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union” program.

“We believe there are more effective ways to make sure that this doesn’t happen again and also to leave room to work with the Saudis on areas where there is mutual agreement,” Psaki mentioned.

“That is what diplomacy looks like. That is what a complicated global engagement looks like and we’ve made no secret and have been clear that we are going to hold them accountable on the global stage,” Psaki mentioned, including that the administration took steps via the Treasury and State Department.

When he was working for president, Joe Biden mentioned he would maintain senior Saudi leaders accountable for Khashoggi’s dying, calling the dominion’s management a “pariah” that had “very little social redeeming value.”

On Friday, Treasury slapped sanctions on the crown prince’s safety element, often called the Rapid Intervention Force. It additionally sanctioned the previous deputy head of the dominion’s intelligence service, Ahmad Hassan Mohammed al-Asiri, who’s accused of being a ringleader within the plot.

Meanwhile, the State Department imposed visa restrictions on 76 Saudi people “believed to have been engaged in threatening dissidents overseas, including but not limited to the Khashoggi killing.”

Khashoggi, a 59-year-old U.S. resident and a extensively recognized critic of the Saudi royal household, went to the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, 2018. He by no means emerged following the scheduled appointment. He was killed contained in the Saudi authorities constructing and later dismembered. His stays have been by no means recovered.

A person holds a poster of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi throughout a protest organized by members of the Turkish-Arabic Media Association on the entrance to Saudi Arabia’s consulate on October 8, 2018 in Istanbul, Turkey. 

Chris McGrath | Getty Images News | Getty Images

When requested if the Biden administration would take additional motion, Psaki mentioned that the United States would recalibrate its relationship with Saudi Arabia within the wake of the Trump administration.

Earlier this month, Biden announced the end of U.S. support for offensive operations in Yemen. Since March 2015, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have carried out assaults in Yemen in opposition to the Houthis. The Saudi-led intervention in Yemen had beforehand loved the backing of former President Donald Trump’s administration. And final month, Biden halted sales of precision-guided munitions to Saudi Arabia so as to assess potential human rights abuses.

On the marketing campaign path, then-Vice President Biden criticized then-President Donald Trump’s refusal to deal with the dominion’s human rights abuses and eagerness to promote the royals extra American-made weapons.

“I would make it very clear that we are not going to in fact sell more weapons to them, we were going to in fact make them pay the price,” Biden mentioned throughout a Democratic presidential debate. “They have to be held accountable” he added.

Saudi Arabia’s oil-rich monarchy is certainly one of America’s most strategic companions and a big patron of U.S. protection corporations. The Saudis are the top buyer of U.S.-made arms, a title that has safeguarded the dominion from retaliatory sanctions over the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the Saudi-led struggle in Yemen.

Despite stories that Saudi Arabia was behind the assault, Trump said in a lengthy statement that the United States would stand with Saudi Arabia.

U.S. President Donald Trump seems over at Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammad bin Salman al-Saud as they line up for the household picture through the opening day of Argentina G20 Leaders’ Summit 2018 at Costa Salguero on November 30, 2018 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Daniel Jayo | Getty Images

Throughout his presidency, Trump usually cited the significance of America’s relationship with Saudi Arabia, repeatedly pushing again on approving vital financial or political penalties for Riyadh’s human rights abuses.

Trump has additionally beforehand mentioned that the U.S. protection business could be negatively impacted if his administration have been to sanction the Saudis over the Khashoggi killing.

“I tell you what I don’t want to do,” Trump mentioned to CBS’ “60 Minutes,” when he was requested about probably blocking arms gross sales to Riyadh. “Boeing, Lockheed, Raytheon, all these [companies]. I don’t want to hurt jobs. I don’t want to lose an order like that. There are other ways of punishing, to use a word that’s a pretty harsh word, but it’s true,” he mentioned one month after Khashoggi’s disappearance.

Read extra: Restrictions on arms sales to Saudi Arabia would likely have a limited impact on US defense firms, Cowen says

The Biden administration has beforehand mentioned it’s reviewing U.S. relations with Saudi Arabia and in contrast to the earlier administration, the 35-year-old royal is not viewed as the president’s counterpart. Instead, Biden and can conduct relations via the crown prince’s growing older father, King Salman, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken will conduct relations via the foreign minister.

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