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The United States is beginning to view Saudi Arabia as a “liability” that could complicate international relations, says a political analyst in Virginia.
“The policymakers in the United States have apparently decided that the Saudis have become too much of a liability and are trying to rein in some of the excessive behavior of the Saudis,” said Keith Preston, chief editor and director of Attackthesystem.com.
“The level of state repression that exists in Saudi Arabia is very extreme and always has been. That’s well known,” he said.
The CIA has concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the gruesome murder of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul last month, The Washington Post reported.
Sources close to the spy agency said it had assessed the evidence in detail.
The Washington Post, which Khashoggi worked for, said the CIA assessment was based partly on a phone call made by the crown prince’s brother, Khalid bin Salman, the Saudi ambassador to the US.
Prince Khalid allegedly called Khashoggi, an outspoken critic of bin Salman, at the direction of his brother and told him to go to the Saudi diplomatic mission while giving him assurances that he would be safe there. Khashoggi, 59, was killed in the consulate in Istanbul on October 2. His body has not been found.
“It’s always been known that the Saudi Arabia murders political dissidents,” Preston said, adding, “so it’s not that anything unusual has happened.”
What came as a shock to US officials is that the Saudis murdered a political dissident that happened to live in the United States and wrote for The Washington Post and other major American newspapers, the analyst pointed out.
“It’s been very difficult for the Saudis to simply slip this under the rug,” he said.
Khashoggi’s murder has also brought the world’s attention to the Saudi war crimes in Yemen, where about 56,000 Yemenis have been killed since the start of the war in 2015.
Preston said the Saudi war has created such a serious international crisis that the American media and policy makers can no longer simply ignore.
A bipartisan group of US senators introduced a bill Thursday that would halt US arms exports to Saudi Arabia as a response to the “barbaric” murder of Khashoggi and the “indiscriminate” bombing of Yemen.
Eight million people are affected by severe food shortages in Yemen and up to 14 million — or half of its population — are at risk of famine, UN officials have warned.