White House to receive Khashoggi report as Saudi Arabia comes under concerted pressure

White House to receive Khashoggi report as Saudi Arabia comes under concerted pressure

The White House will today receive a report on Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder. The intelligence report is expected to

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Photo: Reuters

The White House will today receive a report on Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder. The intelligence report is expected to attribute blame for the killing and assess its impact on the US-Saudi relationship and the implications for regional issues.

Since the murder of Khashoggi on October 2, questions have been asked about the culpability of Saudi Arabia’s powerful Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, putting his reputation as a business-friendly reformer at stake.

Regardless of who is to blame, both the White House and State Department have highlighted the importance of maintaining the strategic relationship between the US and Saudi Arabia. Over the past two years, Riyadh has pledged tens of billions of dollars to US companies—either via purchases or investment. The Saudis are also a key regional security partner, particularly in combatting Iran’s influence.

But Saudi Arabia now finds itself under increasing pressure from Western countries, which could exploit the Khashoggi situation to pursue other interests. Washington wants the kingdom to mend fences with Qatar, which has been under a Saudi-led blockade since June 2017. Perhaps more likely is a negotiated ceasefire to halt a devastating assault on Yemen’s port city of Hodeida. In recent days, progress has been made to restart peace talks between the Saudi-backed Yemeni government and Iranian-aligned Houthi rebels.

Expect movement in this area in the coming weeks, although diametrically opposed forces in Yemen mean a lasting solution is unlikely.

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