the United States accuses Ben Salman but does not sanction him

Washington said on Friday that the Saudi Crown Prince had “valid»An operation for«capture or killThe Saudi dissident and US resident, murdered in atrocious conditions at the Saudi consulate in 2018.

On the strength of a highly anticipated intelligence report, declassified on Friday, the United States says Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Ben Salman has “valid»An operation for«capture or kill“Saudi dissident and US resident Jamal Khashoggi, murdered in atrocious conditions at the Arabian consulate in 2018.”We have come to the conclusion that the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed Bin Salman has validated an operation in Istanbul, Turkey, to capture or kill Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi“Writes the National Intelligence Directorate in this short declassified four-page document.

This report, published the day after the first telephone contact between Joe Biden and King Salman, father of MBS, estimates that the crown prince considered Khashoggi, a regular contributor to the Washington Post, as a “threat to the kingdom and more broadly supported the use of violent measures if necessary to silence it“. Intelligence established a list of 21 people “responsible or accomplicesOf this assassination which caused considerable harm to Saudi Arabia. These people could not act without “authorizationOf the prince, adds the report, which states, however, that they did not know whether this operation would “result in death»De Jamal Khashoggi.

Under a thunder of criticism – including and especially in the United States among the Democrats – MBS had been saved by Donald Trump, who refused to sanction the prince, who was also supported by his father King Salman.

The findings of this report come as no surprise: they were already those of the CIA. What will be its consequences for the relationship between Arabia and its main ally, the United States? Washington announced visa restrictions for 76 Saudis accused of “threatened dissidents abroad“. Among them, General Ahmed al-Assiri, a high ranking soldier and graduate of Saint-Cyr, and Saud al-Qahtani, the mastermind of the assassination. These sanctions are part of a new rule, dubbed by the State Department “Khashoggi ban“, Aimed at barring from entry into the United States any person accused of attacking, on behalf of the authorities of his country, dissidents or journalists abroad, declared the head of the American diplomacy Antony Blinken in a report. communicated. But no sanction should be taken against MBS.

MBS, essential for Biden

Joe Biden called King Salman on Thursday, presumably to clear the effect of the intelligence report’s release. Neither of the two capitals had alluded to it in the report that followed the meeting between the two leaders. The White House had claimed that Joe Biden’s interlocutor would be the monarch. It is likely that MBS will be snubbed by the US president, which will not prevent contacts between US officials and the young and brash crown prince. Already the boss of the Pentagon called him. Given the age of his father, 85, and his state of health, MBS concentrates most of the powers in Arabia, and he seems unavoidable. As US officials said immediately after the report was released, it is “recalibrer»The relationship with Arabia, without calling into question the strategic partnership, dating back more than half a century, between the two countries. “We don’t want a breakup, we have a lot of interests in commonAn American official told Reuters.

Before his election, Joe Biden had nevertheless ruled that Arabia should be treated as a state “pariahFor this case. The president could now use this report as a means of pressure in order to wrest from Riyadh the reforms that Washington considers essential, in particular in terms of human rights or to put an end to the war led by Arabia in Yemen.

Critic of Saudi power after being close to it, Jamal Khashoggi was dismembered on October 2, 2018 in his country’s consulate in Istanbul by a commando of agents from Saudi Arabia. His body has never been found. After denying the assassination, Ryad ended up saying that it had been committed by Saudi agents who acted alone. After an opaque trial in Saudi Arabia, five Saudis were sentenced to death and three sentenced to prison terms – death sentences have since been commuted.

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