US failure to act against Saudi Arabia will embolden Iran
Lack of sanctions over the Jamal Khashoggi murder adds to the distrust of Washington in the region
US President Joe Biden’s administration released a report last week saying Mohammed bin Salman, crown prince of Saudi Arabia and the kingdom’s de facto ruler, authorised a hit-squad to “kill or capture” Jamal Khashoggi, a troublesome journalist lured from the US to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and murdered in 2018. Yet Washington seems to be doing remarkably little about it, at least so far.
The report was a declassified and sanitised version of a 2018 CIA finding that the crown prince was responsible, based in large part on Turkish spies who bugged the consulate and tapped the 15-man Saudi hit-squad’s smartphones. Donald Trump, even though he doubted Mohammed’s professions of innocence, chose to do nothing. But Biden threatened to treat Saudi Arabia as a pariah. Now, after a long build-up, his team seems to be saying: well, it’s complicated...