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Germany issuing travel bans to 18 Saudis over Khashoggi’s death

Germany is banning 18 Saudi citizens suspected of being involved in Jamal Khashoggi's death from entering Europe's Schengen zone. The government says it is also halting previously approved arms exports to Saudi Arabia. Germany has triggered proceedings to ban 18 Saudi citizens allegedly involved in the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi from entering Europe's border-free Schengen zone, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Monday. "We still have more questions than answers in the Khashoggi case," Maas said on the sidelines of a European Union meeting in Brussels, adding that he had discussed the decision with Britain and France prior to his announcement. The Schengen Area comprises 26 European countries. It includes most EU countries and non-EU members Norway and Switzerland. A German Foreign Ministry spokeswoman told the Reuters news agency that Germany's privacy laws precluded her from naming the individuals. Arms sales on ice In another move in response to the killing, the German Economy Ministry said on Monday that it had halted all arms sales to the kingdom, even those previously approved. A month ago, Germany said it would not give the green light to any new weapons sales to Saudi Arabia, but did not say what would happen with contracts that had already received approval. The decision to halt exports is likely to affect the delivery of 20 patrol boats that are already under construction in the eastern state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. Other EU member states, and notably France, have so far declined to halt arms sales to Saudi Arabia. Saudi dithering Khashoggi was killed while visiting the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on October 2. His body was dismembered and removed. Germany and the European Union have repeatedly called on Saudi authorities to clarify the circumstances of Khashoggi's death. Riyadh initially denied that he had been killed. But amid growing international pressure, it accused 11 rogue agents of carrying out the killing without its consent. Doubts remain however about the complicity of Saudi leaders. On Saturday, US media reported that the US Central Intelligence Agency believed with "high confidence" that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman directly ordered the killing. Germany announced it would stop selling weapons to Saudi Arabia in late October until the full facts of Khashoggi's death were "on the table."

Germany is banning 18 Saudi citizens suspected of being involved in Jamal Khashoggi’s death from entering Europe’s Schengen zone. The government says it is also halting previously approved arms exports to Saudi Arabia. Germany has triggered proceedings to ban 18 Saudi citizens allegedly involved in the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi from entering Europe’s border-free Schengen zone, German Foreign ... Read More »

Yemeni government confirms participation at peace talks

The government backed by Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries has said it will send delegates to UN-backed peace talks. The last set of peace talks in September failed after Houthi rebels failed to show up. The Saudi Arabia-backed government of Yemen confirmed on Monday that it would take part in peace talks sponsored by the United Nations. The government also called on the UN to "pressure" Yemen's Houthi rebels to attend the talks without conditions. The announcement coincided with a speech by Saudi Arabia's King Salman in which he reiterated his country's support for the UN efforts to end the war. The Iran-backed Houthis have fought a three-and-a-half-year-war with the Yemeni government and an alliance of Arab countries led by Saudi Arabia UN envoy Martin Griffiths is set to travel to Yemen finalize arrangements for peace talks in Sweden. Both sides had previously given "firm assurances" to him that they would attend. On Sunday, Houthi leader Mohammed Ali al-Houthi called on rebel fighters to stop attacks against the Saudi-led coalition and said the group was ready for a ceasefire. Attempts to hold peace talks in September failed after Houthi representatives failed to show up. Fighting has intensified recently around the port city of Hodeida, sparking fears that millions could face starvation in the event of a blockade. More than 10,000 people have died in the war, according to official figures, but activists say the actual death toll could be far higher.

The government backed by Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries has said it will send delegates to UN-backed peace talks. The last set of peace talks in September failed after Houthi rebels failed to show up. The Saudi Arabia-backed government of Yemen confirmed on Monday that it would take part in peace talks sponsored by the United Nations. The government ... Read More »

In Yemen’s war, locals struggle to stay neutral

Ever more Yemenis are siding with the Saudi coalition or Houthis to safeguard a salary and a semblance of protection. But some are determined to stay neutral, despite the obstacles they face. Mat Nashed reports. On the morning of October 6, Rahab* was hauled away from a student demonstration in the heart of Yemen's capital, Sanaa. Like her peers, she was fed up with soaring food prices and a lack of basic services, so she joined the protests against the Houthis who control the capital. The violent militia, which belongs to the Shiite offshoot Zaidi Islam, crushed the demonstration within minutes. "When the [Houthis] took me, I thought I was never coming back [home]," said Rahab, a 20-year-old activist. "Most of the protesters with me were women. The [Houthis] released us at night, but only after we signed a pledge not to protest again." Civilians in Sanaa are trapped between the repressive rule of the Houthis and the indiscriminate offensive of the Saudi-led coalition. The latter seeks to dislodge the former and reinstate the internationally recognized government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi. But Saudi Arabia's war has caused millions of Yemenis to starve by restricting imports and suspending salaries of more than a million civil servants in Houthi-held areas. The Houthis are reportedly exacerbating the crisis by kidnapping people for ransom. To survive, more people are picking sides in the war to earn a living or secure an exit from the country. But Rahab and others refuse to do so, leaving them with few advantages and little protection. "There are many other women who escaped [from Sanaa] to the city of Marib and I think many of them will be part of the Saudi alliance soon. But I'm also against Saudi Arabia's aggression," Rahab told DW. Fighting to survive The war has brought Sanaa to its knees and Yemenis are divided over who to blame. Residents say the city barely has electricity, pushing most people to burn coal or rely on solar energy for power. Fuel is also in short supply, but food and water are scarcer. Rami*, 29, said that the Houthis and the Saudi-coalition are equally responsible for ruining the city. "I hate them all. There are hardly any jobs in Sanaa unless you have personal connections with a political faction," he told DW. "Civilians are starving, and I hear that many people are stealing to feed their families now." Fighting appears to be the only source of reliable income, giving Saudi Arabia an advantage. Several people told DW that the Saudis lure fighters away from the Houthis by paying in their own currency, which is much stronger than the Yemeni rial. But Rami says that he would smuggle himself into Saudi Arabia before picking up arms. For now, he survives by selling plastic bags to shops that sell khat, which is an amphetamine-like stimulant that many Yemenis chew. "I hardly make money, but I will never fight. People have to allow themselves to be brainwashed to fight, but neither my friends nor I can do that," said Rami. Adam Baron, a visiting fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations in London, adds that people who are politically active have little space in Yemen to remain neutral. He says that false allegations can land people in jail and that the Houthis often detain perceived opponents. "People are putting each other in a box, so more people are thinking that they should just choose a side to get some benefits," Baron told DW. Neither the Saudi coalition nor the Houthis have attempted to safeguard civilians. As the former starves the country, the latter profiteers from the dire humanitarian crisis. Human Rights Watch (HRW) has reported that the Houthis are holding opponents and perceived opponents hostage in secret prisons, where many are beaten with iron rods, whips and assault rifles. Many of the hostages are journalists and activists who have little to no affiliation with factions in the war. "In almost all cases the families of victims were asked to pay a ransom to secure the release of their loved ones, but many of these people are already very poor," Kristine Beckerle, the Yemen researcher for HRW, told DW. "It's awful because the Houthi leadership knows that [hostage-taking] is happening and they can stop it if they want." Rahab, the activist from the demonstration, considers herself lucky that she was released so soon. But since she's been warned, the consequences could be more severe if she protests again. For now, she focuses on aiding her people, and says that her community trusts her because she doesn't belong to any political or religious faction. With winter coming, her main priority is organizing an online group of volunteers to donate and distribute clothes to poorer Yemenis. Despite her best efforts, she remains pessimistic about the future. "Children, women and the elderly are dying daily, and all sides are accountable for the bloodshed," she said. "The war is also taking a psychological and emotional toll on me. It's not easy to watch an entire society die."

Ever more Yemenis are siding with the Saudi coalition or Houthis to safeguard a salary and a semblance of protection. But some are determined to stay neutral, despite the obstacles they face. Mat Nashed reports. On the morning of October 6, Rahab* was hauled away from a student demonstration in the heart of Yemen’s capital, Sanaa. Like her peers, she ... Read More »

Khashoggi killing: Saudi prosecutor seeks death penalty for five suspects

Saudi Arabia's top prosecutor has recommended the death penalty for five of the suspects charged in the murder case of dissident writer Jamal Khashoggi. However, he denied Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's involvement. Saud al-Mojeb, the kingdom's top prosecutor, announced on Thursday that he was recommending the death penalty for five of the 11 suspects who have been charged with ordering and carrying out the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was killed in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. He did not name the suspects. In total, 21 people have been arrested in connection with the case. Crown Prince bin Salman exonerated Khashoggi, a regular contributor to US newspaper The Washington Post, was a staunch critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. His murder caused international outrage, and many believe it could not have been carried out without bin Salman's knowledge. The prosecutor, however, claimed the crown prince was not involved in the killing. He said the highest-ranking member of the Saudi leadership implicated in the operation was former deputy intelligence chief Ahmad al-Assiri, who has since been fired for ordering Khashoggi's forced return. A spokesman for the prosecution told reporters that plans to assassinate Khashoggi were set in motion on September 29. "The crime included a fight and injecting the citizen Khashoggi with a drug overdose that led to his death," the official said. The body was dismembered and handed over to a local collaborator, he added. He did not give any details on the location of the body. Khashoggi entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on October 2 to get paperwork for his upcoming wedding. His fiancée raised the alarm when he did not return. After weeks of denials and under growing international pressure, Riyadh finally admittedthat Khashoggi was killed in the consulate in a "rogue" operation. US issues sanctions On Thursday, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced that the US was placing harsh economic sanctions on 17 Saudis for their alleged involvement in the Khashoggi murder. In a statement, Mnuchin said: "The Saudi officials we are sanctioning were involved in the abhorrent killing of Jamal Khashoggi. These individuals who targeted and brutally killed a journalist who resided and worked in the United States must face consequences for their actions." Three of the individuals targeted in Thursday's sanctions were Saud Al-Qahtani and Maher Mutreb, both of whom are top aides to Salman, and Mohammed Alotaibi, consul general at the Istanbul consulate at the time Khashoggi was murdered. The US treasury secretary said Qahtani "was part of the planning and execution of the operation" to kill Khashoggi. The secretary stopped short of accusing the crown prince of involvement. The sanctions fall under the Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and were issued as part of the US Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act. Such sanctions freeze targets' assets if they fall under US jurisdiction. The sanctions also forbid Americans and US companies from conducting business with them. Mnuchin's statement also said: "The Government of Saudi Arabia must take appropriate steps to end any targeting of political dissidents or journalists." Trouble with the Turks The case has caused a row between the kingdom and Turkey, whose government insists the suspects should be tried in Turkey. Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu called the Saudi prosecutor's statement "positive but insufficient," insisting that Khashoggi's murder was "premeditated." Cavusoglu said the Thursday announcement by Saudi Arabia's top prosecutor fell short of his own country's expectations: "I want to say that we did not find some of his explanations to be satisfactory" and that "those who gave the order, the real perpetrators, need to be revealed. This process cannot be closed down in this way." Cavusoglu also questioned why Saudi Arabia had only indicted 11 of the 18 suspects detained. He pointed out that the Saudi prosecutor made no mention of where Khashoggi's remains were taken: "There is a question that has not been answered yet. Where is Khashoggi's body? Where was he disposed of, where was he buried, where was he burned? There is still not an answer on this issue."

Saudi Arabia’s top prosecutor has recommended the death penalty for five of the suspects charged in the murder case of dissident writer Jamal Khashoggi. However, he denied Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s involvement. Saud al-Mojeb, the kingdom’s top prosecutor, announced on Thursday that he was recommending the death penalty for five of the 11 suspects who have been charged with ... Read More »

UN to investigate Saudi Arabia’s human rights record

Saudi Arabia faces international condemnation for its apparent murder of Jamal Khashoggi and its ongoing war in Yemen. The UK and the US are reportedly working on a joint resolution to end hostilities. The United Nations Human Rights Council is to debate on Monday the dismal human rights record of Saudi Arabia following the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The so-called Universal Periodic Review, a compulsory review carried out every four years, will also focus on Riyadh's role in Yemen's civil war. Meanwhile, British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said he will lobby the UN Security Council to try and find a political solution to four years of hostilities in Yemen. At least 10,000 have been killed in the conflict between a Saudi-backed coalition and Iran-backed Houthi rebels, and half the nation faces imminent starvation. Hunt's announcement came after Washington, which has long backed the Saudis, called for Riyadh to end its airstrikes in the country. UN diplomats, speaking anonymously, told Reuters news agency that Britain and the US were working on a joint resolution to stop the fighting in Yemen. Public grilling The half-day public debate will see a Saudi delegation, headed by the country's Human Rights Commission chief, Bandar Al Aiban, grilled by other nations over its human rights record. Activists have urged countries to hold Saudi Arabia to account. "UN member states must end their deafening silence on Saudi Arabia and do their duty of scrutinizing the cruelty in the kingdom in order to prevent further outrageous human rights violations in the country and in Yemen," Samah Hadid, Amnesty International's Middle East director of campaigns, said in a statement. "The Saudi government's long-standing repression of critics, exemplified by the extrajudicial execution of journalist Jamal Khashoggi last month, has until recently been willfully ignored by UN member states," she added. According to publicly submitted questions, Britain, Austria and Switzerland will directly ask about the Khashoggi case. Sweden will ask how it plans to improve respect for the freedom of expression and the safety of journalists. The US will ask whether Riyadh plans to modify its counterterrorism law to ensure the definition of "terrorism" does "not include acts of expression, association, or peaceful assembly." Ahead of the review, the UN rights office published a list of concerns about human rights in Saudi Arabia, including discrimination against women, continued use of the death penalty, and "extremely broad" definitions of terrorism that enable "the criminalization of some acts of peaceful expression."

Saudi Arabia faces international condemnation for its apparent murder of Jamal Khashoggi and its ongoing war in Yemen. The UK and the US are reportedly working on a joint resolution to end hostilities. The United Nations Human Rights Council is to debate on Monday the dismal human rights record of Saudi Arabia following the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The ... Read More »

Jamal Khashoggi’s family called to palace by Saudi royals

Saudi King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman expressed their condolences Tuesday to the family of slain journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Yamama Palace in Riyadh, the state-run SPA news agency said. Photographs of the gathering showed Khashoggi's brother Sahl bin Ahmed Khashoggi and his son Salah Jamal Khashoggi (pictured above) exchanging handshakes with the two royals as a cameraman filmed in the background. Sahl and Salah gave their thanks to the king and crown prince, the SPA report added. A friend of the family told The Associated Press that Salah cannot leave the country because he has been under a travel ban since last year Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also offered his condolences to the Khashoggi family in a phone call and told them he would do "everything necessary to solve the murder," the Turkish presidency said. US targets 'Saudi suspects' Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, a vocal critic of the crown prince, disappeared after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2. Saudi Arabia initially claimed the 59-year-old had left the premises after picking up some documents, but later said he had died accidentally in a "fistfight." A number of Western governments have questioned the credibility of that account and demanded that the kingdom — which is hosting a major investor conference this week — provide a full explanation. Critics allege the crown prince himself may have ordered the assassination, or at the very least been aware of it. US State Secretary Mike Pompeo said the Trump administration would move to revoke visas of concerned Saudi officials. Shortly afterward, the State Department said 21 "Saudi suspects" would no longer be able to enter the US. "These penalties will not be the last word on this matter," Pompeo said. The Trump administration "will continue to hold those responsible accountable. We're making very clear that the United States does not tolerate this kind of ruthless action to silence Mr. Khashoggi, a journalist, with violence." Search for evidence Turkish officials allege Khashoggi was tortured, killed and dismembered inside the consulate by a 15-man hit squad flown in from Riyadh. Last week, Turkish forensics teams searched the home of the Saudi consul general, located just 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) from the consulate. Local media reported that local security forces had also searched for evidence at a 3-story villa in Yalova province, near Istanbul. The property reportedly belonged to a member of the Saudi hit squad. Read more: Jamal Khashoggi's murder through the lens of Middle Eastern media Saudi Arabia's Cabinet said on Tuesday that it would hold those behind the murder to account "no matter who they may be." "Measures have been taken by the kingdom to uncover the truth and hold accountable all those whose incompetence or immediate responsibility" was behind the killing, a Cabinet statement published by the state-run SPA news agency said. Saudi authorities say they have arrested 18 suspects, including members of the hit squad and consulate staff.

Saudi King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman expressed their condolences Tuesday to the family of slain journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Yamama Palace in Riyadh, the state-run SPA news agency said. Photographs of the gathering showed Khashoggi’s brother Sahl bin Ahmed Khashoggi and his son Salah Jamal Khashoggi (pictured above) exchanging handshakes with the two royals as a ... Read More »

Turkey using Jamal Khashoggi’s killing as political leverage

Turkey using Jamal Khashoggi's killing as political leverage The killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Saudi Arabia's Istanbul consulate has put a strain on Turkey's relationship with the Gulf monarchy. Until recently, Turkey had been at pains to maintain good ties with the Saudis, while also keeping friendly relations with the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood — an organization Khashoggi supported, incidentally. Now, it seems, Turkey's political balancing act has come to an end; the gloves are coming off and Ankara wants Saudi Arabia to come clean about the killing. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has vowed that Khashoggi's murder will be fully investigated. Former Turkish Foreign Minister Yasar Yakis believes Erdogan's tough new stance vis-a-vis Riyadh is not only a result of Khashoggi's death, but part of his broader political agenda. Turkey's ties to the Muslim Brotherhood Turkey's relationship to the Muslim Brotherhood — one of the most important political movements in the Arab world, which has its roots in Egypt — always played an important role in ties between Ankara and Riyadh. Indeed, it is well-known that the Saudis disapproved of Turkey's relationship with the Brotherhood. Even so, and despite the complicated state of Middle Eastern politics, Turkey is trying to uphold its ties to the organization, along with Iran, according to Yakis. In response to Turkey's Brotherhood relationship, Saudi Arabia has sought closer ties with Israel, he said. And the Gulf monarchy is also cooperating with the Kurds, a group long at odds with Erdogan's government — especially in Syria. "The Kurds are America's closest ally in the fight against [Islamic State] in Syria," said Yakis, noting that they recently received arms worth $200 million (€174 million). "The weapons were provided by the US, the Saudi kingdom footed the bill." What's more, Turkey was rather irritated that the Kurds received such support, he added. In light of the complicated Saudi-Turkish ties, Erdogan is using Khashoggi's murder as leverage against Riyadh, Yakis said. Erdogan has signaled that he has information which he could use against them, without revealing everything he knows, he explained, which will keep the Saudis and Turks busy in talks. Deeply at odds These talks could indicate that Turkey wishes to play a greater role in the Arab world. Indeed, during a visit to Egypt in early 2018, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman accused Turkey of supporting Iran and Islamist organizations, and blamed the country for working towards building an Arab caliphate. Burak Bilgehan Ozpek, a political researcher at Ankara's TOBB University of Economics and Technology, said that Turkey has by and large ignored these accusations. Turkey did, however, severely criticize Saudi Arabia when it, together with several other Arab states, imposed an economic embargo on Qatar in 2017. So while Turkey was helping Qatar fight the embargo, it was simultaneously trying to keep tensions with the Saudi kingdom to a minimum. Ozpek believes Khashoggi's murder has pushed Erdogan to pressure the Saudis. If Saudi Arabia reconsiders its stance in the region and with regard to Turkey, tensions may be reduced, he said, but noted he is nonetheless skeptical about whether the Khashoggi affair will be fully resolved. "Turkey is acting as if it were in control of the case, and is feeding expectations of a transparent investigation," Ozpek said. Only time will tell if these expectation are met, he added, explaining that until that happens, there is no certainty over what really happened to Khashoggi.

Turkey using Jamal Khashoggi’s killing as political leverage The killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Saudi Arabia’s Istanbul consulate has put a strain on Turkey’s relationship with the Gulf monarchy. Until recently, Turkey had been at pains to maintain good ties with the Saudis, while also keeping friendly relations with the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood — an organization Khashoggi supported, ... Read More »

Saudi Arabia says journalist Jamal Khashoggi died after ‘fistfight’ at consulate

Early findings from a Saudi investigation into the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi confirm he is dead. A high-level intelligence official has been fired and 18 Saudi nationals have been arrested. The preliminary results of a Saudi investigation into missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi confirm that he died at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Saudi state media reported on Saturday. Khashoggi died following a "fistfight" at the consulate, according to the state-run Saudi Press Agency (SPA). "The discussions between Jamal Khashoggi and those he met at the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul ... devolved into a fistfight, leading to his death," SPA reported, citing the public prosecutor. Read more: Saudi Arabia: Powerful, but not omnipotent after Khashoggi affair "The investigations are still underway and 18 Saudi nationals have been arrested," a statement from the Saudi public prosecutor said, adding that royal court adviser Saud al-Qahtani and deputy intelligence chief Ahmed Asiri have been sacked from their positions. Khashoggi, a critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, went missing after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2 to obtain documents for his upcoming marriage to a Turkish citizen. Pro-government Turkish media have repeatedly claimed Khashoggi was tortured and decapitated by a Saudi hit squad inside the consulate, but Turkey has not yet revealed details about the investigation. Saudi Arabia had previously rejected accusations that Khashoggi died at the consulate as "baseless." State media also downplayed allegations from Turkish officials that a Saudi "assassination squad," including an official from Crown Prince Mohammed's entourage and an "autopsy expert," flew in ahead of time and laid in wait for Khashoggi. Intelligence agency revamp Saudi King Salman ordered the formation of a ministerial committee, which Crown Prince Mohammed will head, to restructure the general intelligence agency, according to SPA. The committee will also include the interior minister, the foreign minister, the head of the intelligence agency and the chief of homeland security. According to the king's order, the committee is to report back to him within a month. The Saudi leadership said it is keen "to prevent the recurrence of such a grave error in the future," SPA reported, quoting a Foreign Ministry source. The disappearance of Khashoggi, who was a US resident and Washington Post columnist, caused tension between Saudi Arabia and Western allies, with countries including the UK, Germany and France pressing the Saudis for information on his disappearance. US offers condolences Shortly before Saudi Arabia's announcement, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and King Salman agreed via phone to continue cooperating in the investigation into Khashoggi's disappearance. Erdogan and Salman "emphasized the importance of continuing to work together with complete cooperation," an anonymous Turkish presidential source told the Associated Press news agency. White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the US was "saddened to hear confirmation of Mr. Khashoggi's death, and we offer our deepest condolences to his family, fiancee and friends." "We will continue to closely follow the international investigations into this tragic incident and advocate for justice that is timely, transparent and in accordance with all due process," she said. US President Donald Trump said on Friday that consequences would "have to be very severe" if it turned out that Saudi Arabia was responsible for Khashoggi's death, adding that it was still "a little bit early" to draw conclusions and that he found the explanation of Khashoggi's death credible. Trump also called Saudi Arabia a "great ally." The United Arab Emirates, a Riyadh ally, hailed Saudi Arabia's response in the case. The Gulf Arab state "commends directives and decisions of Saudi King Salman on the issue of Kashoggi," the official news agency WAM said on Twitter. Call for further probe Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said further investigations are needed after Saudi Arabia's acknowledgment that Khashoggi had died. "A lot still remains uncertain. What happened? How did he die? Who is responsible? I expect and I hope that all relevant facts will be clear as soon as possible," Rutte told reporters in Copenhagen. "Thorough investigation is necessary". Britain said it was considering the "next steps." "We send our condolences to Jamal Khashoggi's family after this confirmation of his death. We are considering the Saudi report and our next steps," the foreign ministry said in a statement. "As the Foreign Secretary has said, this was a terrible act and those responsible must be held to account."

Early findings from a Saudi investigation into the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi confirm he is dead. A high-level intelligence official has been fired and 18 Saudi nationals have been arrested. The preliminary results of a Saudi investigation into missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi confirm that he died at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Saudi state media reported on Saturday. Khashoggi ... Read More »

Saudi Arabia: Powerful, but not omnipotent after Khashoggi affair

Saudi Arabia's reputation has suffered massively as a result of Jamal Khashoggi's suspected murder. World leaders are keeping their distance. The country could be hostile in the face of criticism, or enact reforms. Christine Lagarde will no longer attend the upcoming investors' conference in Riyadh. In the initial wake of the disappearance and suspected murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the International Monetary Fund chief confirmed that she would still participate in the meeting. Finally, she has pulled out. Lagarde's spokesperson declined to give a reason for the decision. The cancellation, however, is in line with the announcements of several leading Western politicians who also do not want to be seen in the Saudi capital. Global business leaders have changed their plans as well. The CEOs of major banks including HSBC, Standard Chartered and Credit Suisse do not want to travel to Ryiadh. Others attendees have left their participation open. The CEO of German manufacturer Siemens, Joe Kaeser, said he would reach a decision in the coming days. While Kaeser views the disappearance of Khashoggi as a serious matter, he does not necessarily see boycotts as the solution. "If we stop conversing with countries where people have gone missing then we might as well stay home because we couldn't converse with anyone," he said. 'We cannot mold Saudi Arabia and the royal house' "We cannot mold Saudi Arabia and the royal house the way we want, but we have to deal with the situations as they arise," said Jürgen Hardt, a lawmaker from Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democratic Party, during a recent radio interview. Hardt, a foreign policy expert in Germany's parliament, the Bundestag, added that politicians must maintain dialogue with each other, even when their attitudes do not align or when they completely reject their decisions. Read more: Could the Khashoggi case spell the end for Saudi Crown Prince bin Salman? Hardt pointed out that Saudi Arabia is an active player in the Middle East peace process trying to bring Israelis and Palestinians closer together. At the same time, however, the country is waging a brutal war in Yemen that has resulted in one of the world's worst humanitarian catastrophes. "That's why we have a highly ambivalent view of Saudi Arabia," Hardt said. "With what has unfolded in recent days in the Khashoggi case, and what may be revealed in the coming few days, we will further sharpen our view. And then, if necessary, Europe will adjust its policy on Saudi Arabia." A political heavyweight Any change in European Union policy towards Saudi Arabia would be a decision of enormous significance. For years, the kingdom has been trying to present itself as a reliable political partner to the West. Riyadh has not only declared its intention to mediate in Middle East conflicts; it also claims it wants to play an active role in the fight against terrorism. The country plays an important role in the war in Syria, as well. It sees itself as an important counterweight to Middle East rival Iran, which has massively expanded its presence and influence in the region. In this context, Saudi Arabia has huge political and strategic value for the West. Saudi Prince Khalid bin Farhan al-Saud, who currently lives in exile in Germany, said that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is facing increasing pressure to answer to the suspected murder of Khashoggi, is a particularly important partner for the United States. "The American government could hardly afford to be without a man like Mohammed bin Salman who is easy to influence and control," bin Farhan told DW. The exiled prince also believes that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's recent trip to Saudi Arabia had an ulterior motive: "To keep the crown prince in power so that [the US] can pursue its own plans." Middle East expert Thomas Richter from the German Institute of Global and Area Studies told DW that if the suspicions about Khashoggi's violent death continue to intensify, the kingdom, in particular the crown prince, might be viewed by German politicians in a new light. Richter believes if this happens, a "serious reflection" would begin. "One could reach the conclusion that Saudi Arabia is an authoritarian monarchy ruled by a few people and apparently led by a young prince who does not shy away from anything," he said. Petrodollars and investments However, the economic might of Saudi Arabia could limit the extent of any diplomatic reorientation towards the country, and perhaps, even a direct response to the Khashoggi affair. Saudi Arabia's massive oil reserves give the ruling family substantial leverage. Every day, the world's largest oil exporter sells 10 million barrels. Global demand for oil already exceeds supply in OPEC states. Additionally, due to the imminent sanctions against Iran, around 1.7 million fewer barrels are expected to become available on the market. Should the relationship between the West and Riyadh deteriorate in the aftermath of the Khashoggi affair, Saudi Arabia could retaliate by reducing its exports. The result would be an increase in oil prices. Such a scenario would be reminiscent of the so-called oil crisis of 1973, when OPEC states reduced their production volumes as a result of the Yom Kippur War. Within a few days, the price rose from around $3 to more than $12 per barrel. The result was a worldwide recession. Read more: Donald Trump vs. OPEC: What can he do to bring down oil prices? And Saudi Arabia is not only important as an oil exporter, but also as an investor. In the US alone, it holds bonds worth almost $170 billion (€148 billion). Should it sell them, interest rates on the bond markets would increase sharply. Such a rise would massively upset the monetary policy of the Trump administration, which is financing its latest tax cuts through further bond issues. Hope for a new political culture? Saudi Arabia remains a highly significant international player, both politically and economically. Thus, its reputation as a soon-to-be rogue state in the wake the Khashoggi affair is not entirely accurate. For the time being, Riyadh is responding with threats against its partners. But Saudi Arabia will now have to face the music: Very few international players want to come to the table publicly now. If the outrage over the Khashoggi affair does not subside shortly, the presumed crime could prompt the kingdom to reconsider its political culture.

Saudi Arabia’s reputation has suffered massively as a result of Jamal Khashoggi’s suspected murder. World leaders are keeping their distance. The country could be hostile in the face of criticism, or enact reforms. Christine Lagarde will no longer attend the upcoming investors’ conference in Riyadh. In the initial wake of the disappearance and suspected murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, ... Read More »

Donald Trump says Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi likely dead, vows ‘severe’ consequences

While US officials said Saudi Arabia needs more time to probe the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi, Trump said the journalist is likely dead. As tensions mount, the guest list for Riyadh's investment summit is dwindling. US President Donald Trump told reporters on Thursday it "certainly looks" as though Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi is dead. Trump said consequences "will have to be very severe" if the Saudis were found to be responsible for his death, but he also added that it was still "a little bit early" to draw a conclusion about who may have been behind Khashoggi's suspected murder. The president's remarks came shortly after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington would wait for the Saudis to complete an investigation into what happened to Khashoggi before deciding how to respond. Ministers dropping Saudi conference US Treasury Secretary Seven Mnuchin announced that he would not be attending an investment conference in Saudi Arabia. Earlier on Thursday, French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire and British International Trade Secretary Liam Fox both said they would not be attending the October 23-25 conference. On Wednesday, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said he was postponing a planned trip to Saudi Arabia pending the outcome of the investigation into Khashoggi's disappearance, calling the case "extremely worrying ... and disturbing." Business leaders, media giants boycott summit Saudi Arabia's Future Investment Initiative, dubbed "Davos in the Desert," will be missing numerous major players after several world leaders and top business executives have decided not to attend. Christine Lagarde, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, as well as World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, will not be attending. The heads of JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, Ford and other multinational companies have also pulled out, while several media companies have pulled their sponsorship, including CNN, The New York Times, CNBC, The Economist and Financial Times. Investigation ongoing Khashoggi disappeared on October 2 after entering Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul, sparking international outcry and concern. Numerous media reports citing Turkish officials state that Khashoggi was killed by Saudi agents in the consulate and that his body was dismembered. Saudi officials deny any involvement in his disappearance. Turkish officials have yet to release any evidence in the case, although forensic teams have searched both the consulate and the Saudi consul general's residence. Khashoggi, a US resident and columnist for the Washington Post, was a strong critic of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

While US officials said Saudi Arabia needs more time to probe the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi, Trump said the journalist is likely dead. As tensions mount, the guest list for Riyadh’s investment summit is dwindling. US President Donald Trump told reporters on Thursday it “certainly looks” as though Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi is dead. Trump said consequences “will have to ... Read More »

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