US lawmakers slam Trump for failure to hold Saudi Arabia accountable over Khashoggi killing

US lawmakers slam Trump for failure to hold Saudi Arabia accountable over Khashoggi killing
The anniversary of Jamal Khashoggi's killing prompted several US lawmakers to criticise Trump and call for accountability.
4 min read
02 October, 2020
The death of Khashoggi cast the world's eyes on Saudi Arabia [Getty]

The anniversary of the killing Jamal Khashoggi prompted several US lawmakers to push for Donald Trump to hold Saudi Arabia accountable for the assassination.

Members of the US Senate and the House of Representatives attended a virtual event hosted by the Project on Middle East Democracy (POME), where they argued that friendly relations between the US and Saudi Arabia should not prevent Washington from holding the Arab state responsible for human rights infractions.

Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi had been brutally murdered on 2 October 2018 at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, whilst he was collecting marriage documents.

The shocking killing of the writer and dissident prompted a world-wide response. Two years later, the case continues to cast a wide shadow over Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who had been implicated in the killing.

The CIA in November 2018 concluded that Khashoggi’s murder had been ordered by the powerful young prince, who is also known as MbS.

"It is unlikely that Jamal Khashoggi could have been killed in the way he was without the full knowledge and agreement of the crown prince," UN special investigator Agnes Callamard told Anadolu Agency on the second anniversary of his death.

"And the fact that some of his closest advisors were involved in the pre-planning phase – all of those facts will tend to show circumstantially that his responsibilities involve, including in terms of ordering the killing," the UN expert added.

The Riyadh Criminal Court’s final verdicts were announced on Monday by Saudi Arabia’s state television, and the court ordered a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for five people, who were spared from execution. Another individual received a 10-year sentence, and two others were ordered to serve seven years in prison.

The Saudi trial also concluded the killing was not premeditated.
With many questions left unanswered, US politicians have urged Trump to do better in holding Saudi Arabia accountable.

"We have our work cut out for us because America has not only been respected in the past because of the power of our military, but because of the power of our example," Van Hollen, a Maryland Democrat, said.

"And while we're not perfect, we have worked to stand up for human rights and democracy and the rule of law. You have no credibility if you only apply those standards to your adversaries and enemies; you have to apply them with other countries with whom you have working relationships.”

"President Trump has not only dismissed evidence of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's responsibility for the assassination; he has cozied up even closer to the immoral regime, selling it weapons for its disastrous war in Yemen and putting our country's nuclear know-how in its hands," added Virginia Democrat Tim Kaine.

Kaine believes bin Salman needs to be held accountable.

Read more: Jamal Khashoggi's legacy: A vision worth defending

"Let me be clear: We will hold Saudi Arabia to account for these heinous crimes until we see a dramatic improvement in the nation's treatment of journalists and political dissidents... This is what is right and this is how we honour the legacy of Khashoggi - who wanted to expose the fear, intimidation, arrests and public shaming of people who dare to speak their minds,” he said.

Others are pushing for bin Salman to be held accountable personally; Congressman Ro Khanna said:

"We still have to hold MBS accountable for his crimes against humanity. He has not had any accountability for the brutal killing of the journalist Khashoggi; there has not been any repercussion.

"Until MBS is held accountable, until the war ends, the international community should not be elevating Saudi Arabia. It is a mistake to be having the G20 there."

Saudi Arabia’s upcoming participation in the Urban 20 Summit prompted one New York City Mayor to opt out, and though he did not explicitly cite the killing of Khashoggi, it was heavily implied.

“We cannot lead the world without speaking out against injustices," Bill de Blasio said in a statement.

“We must stand united for combating climate change, advancing peace and protecting human rights. I urge my colleagues in other global cities to join me in withdrawing from this year’s U20 summit and demanding progress.”

Follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram to stay connectet