Saudi Arabia Must Hold Jamal Khashoggi Killers "Accountable''"

Lester Mason
January 14, 2019

A pressing issue during talks in Riyadh is the murder of Saudi journalist Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October past year.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday that a rift between Qatar and its Gulf Arab neighbors had gone on for too long and was threatening regional unity needed to counter Iran.

The trip was cut short after Pompeo met with the Saudi king and crown prince in what is the latest stop of his Middle East tour that has so far been dominated by questions and concerns about the withdrawal of United States troops from Syria.

During Pompeo's previous visit to Riyadh at the height of the Khashoggi affair, his broad smiles with the crown prince had outraged some Americans.

Pompeo delivered the plan in person in October during a meeting in Riyadh with Saudi King Salman and bin Salman, a senior Saudi source who was familiar with Pompeo's talks with the Saudi leaders told MEE.

Pompeo will travel to Saudi Arabia after his daylong stay in Doha.

US President Donald Trump has brushed aside global outrage to stand by Prince Mohammed over the murder of Khashoggi, whose corpse was dismembered inside the kingdom's Istanbul consulate.

During his visit to Qatar, Pompeo refused to comment on reports Washington had recently considered military action against Tehran.

Pompeo also called on Qatar and other Gulf countries to end the worst political rift in the region for years, which has seen Doha diplomatically and economically isolated by neighbouring former allies for the past 19 months.

Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, all US allies, began a blockade of Qatar in June 2017 that continues today.

Qatar - also a USA ally - denies the allegations and accuses the countries of seeking regime change.

"We are all more powerful when we are working together and disputes are limited".

"When we have a common challenge, disputes between countries with shared objectives are never helpful".

The sister of Loujain al-Hathloul, one of several Saudi women's rights activists detained in the kingdom since last summer and accused of treason, pressed Pompeo to raise the issue with officials in Riyadh. "It's. not at all clear that the rift is any closer to being resolved today than it was yesterday and I regret that", he said.

Stopping off in the small, energy-rich nation as part of a Mideast tour, America's top diplomat made a repeated point to say that "great things" were happening between Qatar and the United States.

Attempts at mediation between Qatar and the blockading nations have stalled, as highlighted by the recent resignation of United States envoy Anthony Zinni - who quit because of an apparent "lack of will" on behalf of "regional leaders" for regional reconciliation.

"The departure of Mr. Zinni in no way reflects any change in America's Middle East efforts, our strategy or our ongoing commitment to the region", Pompeo said.

For Washington, turning the page on the crisis is essential for the successful launch of the Strategic Alliance of the Middle East (MESA), which is a NATO-style security pact that includes Gulf countries as well as Egypt and Jordan.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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