The sanctions against the group of Saudis come on the heels of a report published by US intelligence, according to which the heir to the throne of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, ordered an operation to capture Khashoggi or physically eliminate him. Consequently, the Treasury Department imposed sanctions on former Saudi Deputy Intelligence Chief Ahmed Al-Asiri and the Saudi Royal Guard’s Rapid Response Force (the so-called Tigers Group). All U.S. assets in sanctioned entities have been frozen and U.S. citizens are prohibited from doing business with them.
With regard to Khashogi’s murder, the United States has also imposed visa restrictions on 76 Saudi citizens. It is part of a broader policy targeting governments that take action against journalists and dissidents outside their national borders. “For the sake of security for all within our borders, those who target dissidents on behalf of any foreign government should not be allowed to access American soil,” Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said in a statement.
Despite Mohammed bin Salman’s burden, Washington decided not to punish the heir to the Saudi throne, who de facto rules the country. The American human rights expert, Agnes Callamard, called for such a step on Friday. In her opinion, the Saudi authorities should also disclose details of the killing. In general, the various types of human rights organizations and Saudi opposition structures operating outside the country had to positively greet the Americans’ decision as a rule. Despite this, on the occasion of the report on the case There were also voices from Khashoggi that Washington had acted very conservatively toward key political leaders in Riyadh.
It must be remembered that a columnist and commentator for Khashuj, an opponent of the authorities in Riyadh, was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. On October 2, 2018, I visited him to arrange the official formalities related to the wedding. Saudi authorities have long argued that it had nothing to do with his disappearance, but eventually confessed to committing a murder when attempts to persuade a journalist to return voluntarily to the country failed. The body was not found. The Saudi public prosecutor admitted that they were dismembered and removed from the consulate.
Former US President Donald Trump never wanted to publicly blame Mohammed bin Salman, and interest in the alliance with Saudi Arabia, which he treated as one of the pillars of his anti-Iran strategy and a loyal US arms buyer. However, Biden has long argued that because of the controversy that arose over the Khashoggi case and the violation of human rights, the United States should treat Saudi Arabia further. A senior Biden administration official, who claimed not to be named, said Washington’s new approach to relations with Riyadh aims to “create a new starting point” without breaking the foundations of relations in the Middle East.
Nevertheless, Americans should be aware of their strategic limitations on the Gulf states. An example is the fact that Saudi Arabia and, above all, the authorities there received support from the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Kuwait. All this while Riyadh officially rejected the findings of US intelligence. It should be noted, for example, that the representatives of the UAE indicated the fact that they fully support the efforts of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the field of ensuring regional security and the emphasis on refusing to use the case. Hashuji to interfere in the country’s internal affairs.
Moreover, the long-term use of the Khashoggi case by the Biden administration may be linked to the problem of further diminishing America’s ability to operate in the Middle East. Especially when Bahrain, thanks to cooperation with the administration of the predecessor of the United Arab Emirates, established relations with Israel, and even the Kingdom itself also appears more positive on the Israeli side. Thus, we see the formation of a specific anti-Iranian bloc in the region, which is no longer completely dependent and completely dependent on American actions. Of course, Iran will in no way give in to Washington’s pressure, bearing in mind in any way an unconvincing strategic interest in driving the Americans out of the Gulf. Interestingly, the aforementioned CIA report is now being reported very widely in his media.
We must not forget that the current government of Joe Biden is not obliged to fully cooperate with Turkey (Russian air defense systems, accusations by the authorities in Ankara of violating democratic standards, etc.). But in the case of Khashoggi, it was probably thanks to the activity of Turkish intelligence and the acceptance of political factors in the country that the whole issue was discussed a lot around the world. In conclusion, the ideological issues, and above all political, on the part of the increased pressure on the government in Riyadh by the new team in Washington, may end up with much bigger problems for the United States than is currently assumed.
PAP / JR