US forces sanctions, visa bans on Saudis for Jamal Khashoggi’s killing. The Biden administration announced sanctions and visa bans on Friday targeting Saudi Arabian citizens over the 2018 killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, but stopped short of forcing sanctions on Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman himself.
U.S. President Joe Biden’s actions in the first long stretches of his administration appear aimed at satisfying campaign promises to realign Saudi ties after critics accused his predecessor, Donald Trump, of giving the Arab ally and significant oil producer a pass on gross human rights violations.
A senior Biden administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the approach plans to create another launching-off point for ties with the realm without breaking a core relationship in the Middle East. Relations have been severely strained for years by the war in Yemen and the killing inside a Saudi consulate of Khashoggi, a U.S. resident who wrote columns for the Washington Post critical of the crown ruler’s arrangements.
Importantly, the decisions appear designed to preserve a working relationship with the crown ruler, the realm’s de facto leader, despite the fact that U.S. intelligence concluded that he approved the operation to capture or kill Khashoggi.
“The point is a recalibration (in ties) – not a rupture. That’s because of the important interests that we do share,” the senior Biden administration official said.
The 59-year old Saudi journalist was lured to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, 2018 and killed by a team of operatives linked to the crown ruler. They then dismembered his body. His remains have never been found.
The U.S. Treasury Department placed sanctions on the former deputy Saudi intelligence chief, Ahmed al-Asiri, and announced a sanctions designation on the Saudi Royal Guard’s fast intervention force, or RIF.
The RIF was singled out in the declassified U.S. intelligence report for its role in Khashoggi’s killing.
The move freezes any U.S. assets that the Saudi people held and generally bars Americans from dealing with them.