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Death Of A Columnist &…

It seems that even more than two years after his assassination at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Jamal Ahmad Khashoggi (October 13, 1958 – October 2, 2018) – the noted Saudi author, Columnist (for The Washington Post) and Editor-in-Chief of Al-Arab News Channel – continues to influence the Geopolitics in West Asia.

Immediately after the incident rocked the world, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had been blamed for the assassination. However, the Donald Trump Administration in Washington DC maintained silence over the issue. Now, the Administration of newly-elected President Joe Biden has publicly condemned the Saudi Royals for being responsible for the death of the senior journalist. Earlier this week, the US Intelligence Agency, in a rare first, officially claimed that Khashoggi, a fierce critic of bin Salman, had been assassinated on the Crown Prince’s orders. The Biden Administration has also invoked Visa Bans on 76 Saudi officials and members of the Saudi Royal Family involved in the assassination of Khashoggi.

Jamal Ahmad Khashoggi

As expected, the Saudi Government has denied the allegations, stating that it is a baseless and false allegation. Diplomats are of the opinion that ties between Washington DC and Riyadh has taken a new turn under the leadership of Biden.

Khashoggi has remained untraced since entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul in October 2018. Presumably, he was killed and his body was mutilated there. More than two years have passed since then. At that time, Donald Trump was the President of the US. Although an investigation into the murder was going on, who was behind the murder was not made public. However, various sources had pointed the finger at the Saudi Crown Prince. The Trump Administration put the things under carpet, in an attempt to maintain cordial trade and strategic ties with Riyadh. As Saudi Arabia is an important strategic partner of the US in West Asia, the former President did not want to create troubles for Riyadh.

Former President Trump with Crown Prince bin Salman

Ahead of the 2020 Presidential Polls, Biden hinted that he would raise the issue. The US Office of Director of National Intelligence published its views on the killing of Khashoggi on its official website, saying: “Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Muhammed bin Salman approved an operation in Istanbul, Turkey to capture or kill Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.” It added: “The Crown Prince has absolute control of the Kingdom’s security and intelligence organisations, making it highly unlikely that Saudi officials would have carried out an operation of this nature without the Crown Prince’s authorisation.

Although the Biden Administration announced sanctions and Visa Bans, targeting 76 Saudi citizens over the killing of Khashoggi, it seemingly stopped short of imposing sanctions on Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman himself for the sake of bilateral ties. US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken explained that the Visa Ban would be selectively applied to Royal Family members, stressing: “As a matter of safety for all within our borders, perpetrators targeting perceived dissidents on behalf of any Foreign Government should not be permitted to reach American soil.

Anthony Blinken

Meanwhile, Foreign Policy experts believe that the Biden Administration’s move would surely have a negative impact on Saudi-US Ties. They have opined that the increasing distance between the two countries might help other regional powers, like Iran, Israel and Turkey, to corner Saudi Arabia by taking advantage of the situation. It is to be noted that Turkey was the first nation to accuse Saudi Arabia of brutally murdering the 59-year-old journalist.

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