The Trump administration is awaiting the results of a Saudi Arabian investigation into the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, it says in the US, and does not seem to be in a hurry to see if and how Saudi Arabia will be punished.
The only specific response proposed so far was Foreign Minister Mike Pompeo, who said this week that the government had "reviewed the sanctioning of individuals … involved in this murder."
"It will likely take a few more weeks before we have enough evidence to actually enforce these sanctions," Pompeo said in a radio interview on Thursday, "but I think we'll get there." The Saudis Made it Arrested 18 security forces, mainly security agents involved in the killing of Khashoggi, a Saudi-based journalist who had criticized the ruling monarchy during a visit on 2 October in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
Lawmakers from both parties have expressed outrage over the violent death of Khashoggi, and some have called for harsh measures, ranging from the cessation of arms sales in the US and military cooperation to the conclusion of discussions on an agreement between the US and Saudi Arabia. Some called on the government to use the Khashoggi case as a lever to force Saudi Arabia to end its brutal US-sponsored war in Yemen and its dispute with the Persian Gulf's neighbors, Qatar, another ally of the USA, finalize.
"The last thing we want to do is a 'business as usual' response to Saudi Arabia, said Senator Lindsey O. Graham (RS.C.) last month, even before the kingdom admitted its own staff led the deliberate Killing of Khashoggi and caused the disappearance of his body.
Individual temperatures have been high, but the midterm elections and the impossibility of holding hearings during a conference break over what the government knows and intends have limited the coordinated oversight.
While Trump has challenged the truth and all options are on the table, he has repeatedly stressed that he is proceeding as usual with Saudi Arabia. He has cited the economic significance of Saudi Arabian purchases of US arms, the stability of the international oil markets, and what he considers to be the important role of the kingdom in achieving US goals in the Middle East.
Trump, Pompeo said, "has made it very clear that we have not only important business relationships, but also important strategic relationships and national security relations with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and we want to ensure that these relationships remain intact."
Pompeo said that the United States would not be bound by the Turkish or Saudi version of events, but would develop its own information and arrive at its own conclusions. A US official said the Saudis are rapidly ending the killings investigation, he stressed, stressing the need for full transparency in talks with King Salman and his son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
"We expect the Saudis to find something that comes very close to what we all know," the official said. "There is not much room for maneuver." US and foreign officials discussed the sensitive diplomatic matter only on the condition of anonymity.
The question "what we all know" is the key. Saudi Arabia has unequivocally rejected any approval of the Khashoggi operation at a high level. However, current and former US officials and virtually all the outside experts of the kingdom insist that the planning and execution of the murder could not have taken place without the knowledge and consent of the powerful Muhammad.
It is not expected that the Saudis, despite his well-known animus towards Khashoggi, his undisputed control over large and small matters within the kingdom and the fact that many of the persons now detained are security agents working for the Saudi leadership.
Turkey has almost directly charged Mohammed, a rival of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, with dominance in the Muslim world. "Who gave the order to kill this benevolent soul?" Erdogan asked in a statement published in the Washington Post on Friday, in which Khashoggi was a columnist. "We know that the order to kill Khashoggi came from the highest levels of the Saudi government."
"Some seem to hope that this" problem "will disappear in time," he wrote, noting that his government had "shared evidence with our friends and allies, including the United States."
This evidence includes a record during the Consulate murder that the Turks played for CIA Director Gina Haspel when she visited Turkey last week.
Whatever the government concludes, it will be difficult to uphold the United States' current close links with the kingdom, while the Crown Prince is blamed for the killing of Khashoggi.
Speaking Wednesday in Washington to the National Council on US Arab Relations, a high-ranking member of the Saudi royal family explicitly suggested that the "demonization" of Saudi Arabia would have consequences.
Prince Turki al-Faisal, son of a former king and cousin of the Crown Prince, is a former Saudi intelligence chief and ambassador to both the United States and the United Kingdom, as well as a close associate of Khashoggi. Known as a pillar of the moderate and internationally oriented branch of the royal family, last week he rejected any suggestion to post-columnist David Ignatius that the kingdom might wish to marginalize ambitious Muhammad. "The more criticism the Crown Prince has, the more popular he is in the kingdom," Turki said.
At the conference, Turki pointed out that the US-Saudi alliance had kept the oil markets stable and combated terrorism, saying that the "pillars" of cooperation were now "challenged". But he warned that "the meaning of Saudi Arabia is not" changed. , , , The kingdom is the center of the Islamic world. "
In addition, "people should not pour stones in glassworks," Turki said. "Countries that tortured and detained innocent people" and "have waged a war that has killed many thousands. , , based on fake information, they should be modest in relation to others, "he said, clearly pointing out the US anti-terrorism policy and the invasion of Iraq.
Turki suggested using a double standard in Saudi Arabia. Innocent Palestinians "are slaughtered by the Israeli army every day," he said. "And yet, I do not see the same media frenzy, the demand, the perpetrators and those who ordered them to kill these children to bring to justice."
The current controversy comes about as the government prepares to introduce international bans on buying oil from Iran on Monday. Countries that comply with the sanctions need to look elsewhere for what they have to offer and the government is counting on Saudi Arabia to increase production to make up for the difference and avert an oil price hike at a politically sensitive time.
A sharp US call for a ceasefire and negotiations in Yemen apparently had little effect, as the Saudi Arabia-led military coalition launched a new offensive there and attacked the rebel-held international airport in the capital, Sana'a, as the port of Hodeida, an important one Gate for humanitarian aid entering the devastated country.
During his visit to Riyadh in May 2017, Trump announced $ 110 billion for newly agreed US military sales to Saudi Arabia. This figure has been increased by the inclusion of agreements that were made during the previous Obama administration, and long-term memoranda of intent for purchases over at least two percent a decade in the future.
To date, around $ 14.5 billion worth of final contracts have been signed, including Chinook's helicopters, training contracts and some $ 7 billion of precision-guided ammunition, most of which were appeals by both parties their use in Yemen was contradicted.
The largest planned sale of the announced $ 15 billion THAAD missile defense batteries is still in the negotiations after the Saudis missed the deadline for signing on September 30. Saudi Arabia has publicly stated that it is also negotiating with Russia on an arms defense system, the purchase of which would trigger US sanctions on countries that buy sophisticated Russian weapons.
The sale of defense-related goods passes through the Congress before it is finalized, initially because of the "informal" approval of the chairpersons and minority members of the US and Senate Foreign Affairs committees. Once completed, Congress will be officially "informed" about the planned sale and will have 30 days to protest by majority vote against the presidential veto.
No Saudi Arabian arms sales have been submitted for formal review, and five informal cases have been imposed indefinitely by the minorities of the House and the Senate.
Sudarsan Raghavan in Cairo contributed to this report.