The Saudi Foreign Ministry released a statement on Monday condemning the United States Senate for passing resolutions last week that held Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman personally responsible for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi and called for ending U.S. support for the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen.
“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia rejects the position expressed recently by the United States Senate, which was based upon unsubstantiated claims and allegations, and contained blatant interferences in the Kingdom’s internal affairs, undermining the Kingdom’s regional and international role,” said the Foreign Ministry statement.
“The Kingdom has previously asserted that the murder of Saudi citizen Jamal Khashoggi is a deplorable crime that does not reflect the Kingdom’s policy nor its institutions and reaffirms its rejection of any attempts to take the case out of the path of justice in the Kingdom,” the statement continued.
The Foreign Ministry hoped Saudi Arabia would not be “drawn into domestic political debates in the United States of America, to avoid any ramifications on the ties between the two countries that could have significant negative impacts on this important strategic relationship.”
This will likely be taken as an insinuation the Senate resolutions were motivated primarily by American domestic political concerns – i.e. senators seeking to rebuke President Donald Trump, who has condemned the Khashoggi killing but declined to hold the crown prince personally responsible – and also a reminder the Saudis are prepared to re-examine their strategic relationship with the United States if they are pushed too hard on the Khashoggi matter or the war in Yemen.
President Trump used similar language in his November 20 statement on Saudi Arabia and the Khashoggi murder:
Representatives of Saudi Arabia say that Jamal Khashoggi was an “enemy of the state” and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, but my decision is in no way based on that – this is an unacceptable and horrible crime. King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman vigorously deny any knowledge of the planning or execution of the murder of Mr. Khashoggi. Our intelligence agencies continue to assess all information, but it could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event – maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!
That being said, we may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi. In any case, our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. They have been a great ally in our very important fight against Iran. The United States intends to remain a steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia to ensure the interests of our country, Israel and all other partners in the region. It is our paramount goal to fully eliminate the threat of terrorism throughout the world!
The Senate resolution that passed last Thursday cited conclusions by the U.S. intelligence community that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) probably ordered the killing of Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, in early October. Officials such as Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has pointed out there is no “direct evidence” that MBS ordered the attack.
Growing Senate support for cutting off assistance to the Saudi coalition in Yemen has been attributed to disgust over the Khashoggi killing and the Kingdom’s behavior in its aftermath, along with general unease about the length of the civil war in Yemen and its humanitarian consequences.
The Senate bill on Yemen is considered unlikely to pass into law since the House would have to approve it and President Trump has promised a veto.