The Department of the Treasury announced today that they will sanction the 17 individuals who were involved in the killing of Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul this October. The move from the Trump Administration will freeze any assets the individuals have in the U.S. and prohibit Americans from working with them, according to the Washington Post.
From the Post:
All of the 17, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement, were “involved in the abhorrent killing” that “targeted and brutally killed a journalist who resided and worked in the United States [and] must face consequences for their actions.”
Mnuchin indicated that the United States would continue investigating to determine whether others were also responsible and said that “the government of Saudi Arabia must take appropriate steps to end any targeting of political dissidents or journalists.”
Since the killing, Congress, the Turkish government, and the international community has put pressure on the U.S. government to distance itself from the Saudis, one of America’s most important allies in the Middle East.
The revelation of Khashoggi’s murder also refocused attention on the Saudi-led, U.S.-backed war in Yemen, which the UN has called 2018's worst humanitarian crisis. Democratic Senator Chris Murphy is pushing legislation that would stop all U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia and end support for the conflict.
Before the Treasury Department announced the sanctions, the Saudi government in said they were indicting 11 Saudi citizens for their role in the murder. The kingdom didn’t name those indicted.
The U.S. sanctions sidestep the question of whether Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was directly involved in the killing . Turkey has claimed that bin Salman ordered the crime, while the Saudi’s say he had no knowledge of it. The sanctions placed by the U.S. do include those some officials close to the prince.
From the Post:
The Treasury sanctions list included Saud al-Qahtani, a former senior aide to the crown prince; the Saudi consul general in Istanbul, Mohammad al-Otaibi, in whose diplomatic mission Khashoggi was killed; and Maher Mutreb, described as a Qahtani “subordinate,” a security official who has frequently traveled with Mohammed and was photographed entering and leaving the consulate in Istanbul on the day of the killing. The other 14, it said, were “members of an operations team” who had a role in the death.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement that the sanctioned individuals “occupied positions in the Royal Court and several ministries and offices of the Government of Saudi Arabia,” when the killing occurred.
“Our action today is an important step in responding to Khashoggi’s killing,” Pompeo said. “The State Department will continue to seek all relevant facts, consult Congress, and work with other nations to hold accountable those involved in the killing of Jamal Khashoggi.”
“As I review this list, it’s clear that it is not comprehensive,” Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen said in a statement. “America’s response to Khashoggi’s murder has significant implications for our credibility around the globe, and there must be further sanctions on Saudi leadership who ordered this assassination.”
“I am disturbed that following repeated Saudi lies about what happened to Jamal, the administration appears to be following the Saudi playbook of blaming mid-level officials and exonerating its leadership,” Sen. Tim Kaine told the Post.
Senator Ron Paul spoke a little more bluntly. “Putting sanctions on people who are already in jail means nothing,” he tweeted. “These individuals might lose their heads, do you think they care? We are pretending to do something and doing NOTHING.”