Ilhan Omar introduces bill to sanction Mohammed bin Salman over Khashoggi murder

Ilhan Omar introduces bill to sanction Mohammed bin Salman over Khashoggi murder
The Biden administration has rejected imposing sanctions on Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
2 min read
03 March, 2021
Omar's bill is one of two proposals to 'hold bin Salman accountable' [Getty]
Prominent progressive Democrat lawmaker Ilhan Omar introduced a bill on Tuesday to sanction Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The proposal puts Omar, a Somali-American Congresswoman, at odds with the Biden administration which has rejected measures against bin Salman.

A previously classified intelligence report released last week found the Saudi crown prince had approved the killing of Khashoggi, a journalist and regime critic who was resident in the US at the time of his death.

The State Department imposed sanctions and travel bans on dozens of Saudi nationals after the report's release but the Biden administration has avoided reprimanding bin Salman in order to not to "rupture" Washington's strategic relationship with Riyadh.

"This is a test of our humanity," Omar said in a statement on Tuesday.

"If the United States of America truly supports freedom of expression, democracy and human rights, there is no reason not to sanction" bin Salman, she said. 

The Minnesota Congresswoman's proposal, named the MBS Act, would ban the de-facto leader of Saudi Arabia from traveling to the US with the exception of attending the United Nations headquarters in New York.

It would also freeze any of his US assets and prohibit any transanctions related to the US.

"This bill is not without precedent. From Iran to Russia, the United States regularly sanctions foreign leaders who commit destabilising or violent acts. We must treat the Saudi Arabian Crown Prince no differently," Omar said.

A seperate proposal was introduced on Monday by Democratic Congressmen Tom Malinowski, Jim McGovern and Andy Kim.

The Saudi Arabia Accountability for Gross Violations of Human Rights Act would prohibit bin Salman from traveling to the US. 

The bill does not propose economic sanctions against the crown prince but does propose that the State Department regularly assess "whether Saudi government actions trigger an existing statutory prohibition on arms sales to countries that harass and intimidate people in the US".

Follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram to stay connected