‘Crazy’ crown prince is ‘complicit’ in Jamal Khashoggi killing, US senator says
A US senator has attacked Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman – describing him as crazy, dangerous, a wrecking ball, and “complicit in the murder” of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Lindsey Graham, a Republican, made the blunt comments following a briefing from the CIA about Mr Khashoggi, who was killed after he entered Saudi Arabia’s consulate in the Turkish city of Istanbul on 2 October.
CIA director Gina Haspel discussed the killing to a select group of US senators behind closed doors. The Washington Post columnist had been critical of Mr bin Salman’s rule.
Following the meeting, Mr Graham told reporters: “Saudi Arabia is a strategic ally and the relationship is worth saving, but not at all cost. We will do more damage to our standing in the world and our national security by ignoring MBS [Mohammed bin Salman] than dealing with him.
“MBS, the crown prince, is a wrecking ball [and] I think he is complicit in the murder of Mr Khashoggi to the highest level possible.
“I think the behaviour before the Khashoggi murder was beyond disturbing and I cannot see him being a reliable partner to the United States.”
Mr Graham continued: “Saudi Arabia and MBS are two different entities. If the Saudi government is going to be in the hands of this man for a long time to come I find it very difficult to do business because I think he’s crazy, I think he is dangerous and he has put the relationship at risk.”
He added that he would no longer be able to support arms sales to the kingdom for as long as Mr bin Salman is leading it.
The crown prince is seen as the de facto leader of the country, and his powers extend over the country’s defence department.
Senator Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on the senate foreign relations committee, echoed Mr Graham’s comments, saying: “The views that I had before have only solidified.”
Mr Menendez has previously called for a strong US reaction to Mr Khashoggi’s death and supports legislation to end all US support for the Saudi coalition embroiled in the Yemen war.
The comments come ahead of a briefing expected to be held next Thursday by Trump administration officials, including secretary of state Mike Pompeo and defence secretary Jim Mattis, to the House of Representative, according to Reuters.
President Donald Trump has equivocated over who is to blame for the killing, frustrating senators who are now looking for ways to punish the longtime Middle East ally.