Sunday, 16 December, 2018

U.S. pressures Saudi over missing journalist

Iranian-Saudi detente could transform the region and US power is there to prevent Opening ceremony of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia
Melody Ballard | 11 October, 2018, 22:58

A bipartisan group of USA senators is forcing the Trump administration to investigate the disappearance of a Saudi journalist, triggering a human rights probe that could result in sanctions against Saudi officials and entities.

US President Donald Trump increased pressure on Saudi Arabia on Wednesday to provide information on what happened to missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and said he wanted to get the bottom of what he called "a very serious situation".

"The recent disappearance of Saudi journalist and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi suggests that he could be a victim of a gross violation of worldwide recognized human rights", the letter said.

Khashoggi vanished on October 2 after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to obtain papers for his pending marriage to his Turkish fiance Hatice Cengiz.

Turkish officials say they fear Khashoggi was killed at the consulate last week.

Lawmakers have been making increasingly strong statements regarding the U.S. -Saudi relationship this week after reports that the kingdom sought to silence one of its most outspoken critics.

Boot told Lemon, "If these reports are accurate, they lured (Khashoggi) into their consulate in Istanbul on the soil of a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation country and killed and dismembered him".

The investigations found that the Saudi cars took a different route than they usually would, as shown by surveillance cameras.

Self-exiled Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi said earlier this year that the Saudi government has been moving toward nationalist radicalism.

In a reversal from Washington's initial low-key response, Trump demanded answers after he spoke to Saudi authorities "at the highest level".

"I'd have to find out really before I discuss this, I'd have to find out what happened", Trump told Fox News.

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The crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, ordered an operation to lure Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia from his home in Virginia and then detain him, according to US intelligence intercepts of Saudi officials discussing the plan.

While unnamed Turkish officials quoted in the media have been giving sometimes macabre details of the alleged murder, Erdogan has so far been more circumspect.

"If this is true - that the Saudis lured a US resident into their consulate and murdered him - it should represent a fundamental break in our relationship with Saudi Arabia".

The agreement reached with the USA over Manbij province in northern Syria has not completely ended, however, it is moving slower than expected, Erdoğan said, regarding the deal reached with Washington for the withdrawal of the People's Protection Units (YPG), the PKK terrorist organization's Syria affiliate.

"It is not right to draw conclusions based on guesses, however we are concerned".

Ankara and Riyadh have worked over recent years to maintain cordial relations despite disputes on key issues, such as the ousting of the Islamist Egyptian government and the blockade on Turkey's key regional ally Qatar.

The Washington Post reported on Wednesday evening that USA intelligence intercepts outlined a Saudi plan to detain Mr Khashoggi. Khashoggi was skeptical of such offers.

But on Wednesday, the State Department said the USA had no advance knowledge of Khashoggi's disappearance. They said at the weekend they believed Mr Khashoggi was killed by a team sent to Istanbul and thought to consist of 15 Saudis.

Sabah daily on Wednesday published the names and images of what it called the "assassination team" including a man called Salah Muhammed Al-Tubaigy whose name it said matched that of a lieutenant-colonel in the Saudi forensic department.

Turkish investigators say they have CCTV footage showing him enter the consulate, but not leaving.

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