Jamal Khashoggi Abduction
Saudi Arabia under huge pressure
Saudi crown prince ‘ordered op’; Erdogan, Trump call for action
ANKARA, Oct 11: Saudi Arabia is facing unprecedented diplomatic pressure from the Trump administration and other allies to provide a credible account of how Jamal Khashoggi vanished at its consulate in Istanbul, with reports in the US implicating the powerful crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, in plans to abduct the dissident journalist.The US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, Donald Trump's national security adviser, John Bolton, and the president's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, have pointedly asked the kingdom's de facto ruler to explain what happened inside its diplomatic mission nine days ago, as evidence continues to mount that Khashoggi was killed and dismembered.
A relentless drip feed of information from Turkish officials and intercepted communications appear to have captured the planning phase of an alleged crime that has shattered diplomatic norms and rocked both Ankara and Riyadh. A report in the Washington Post, citing US intelligence sources, said Bin Salman had earlier authorised an operation to lure Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia and detain him.
The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdo?an, has challenged Saudi Arabia to provide CCTV images to back up its claims Khashoggi had left the consulate safely, indicating he did not find the current Saudi explanations sufficient.
Britain's foreign secretary warned that Saudi Arabia faces "serious consequences" if the suspicions of Turkish officials that Khashoggi was murdered turn out to be true.
Meanwhile, 22 US senators signed a letter to Donald Trump on Wednesday triggering an investigation to determine whether human rights sanctions should be imposed over Khashoggi's disappearance.
In the letter, the senators said they had triggered a provision of the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act requiring the president to determine whether a foreign person was responsible for a gross human rights violation.
In an interview on Wednesday Trump said he wanted to find out what happened to Khashoggi but appeared reluctant to consider blocking arms sales, citing economic reasons.
"I think that would be hurting us," Trump said. "We have jobs, we have a lot of things happening in this country. We have a country that's doing probably better economically than it's ever done before.
"Part of that is what we're doing with our defence systems and everybody's wanting them."
On his first international trip as president, Trump visited Saudi Arabia and announced $110bn in proposed arms sales.
Trump said that the US was "demanding" answers from the Saudi government and working closely with Turkey to find out what happened to the missing dissident. "I think we'll get to the bottom of it," he told reporters. -REUTERS