The decision facing President Donald Trump is not an easy one, a problem not of his own choosing and one that the politically charged president would rather not have to deal with.
To sanction or not sanction Saudi Arabia over the alleged killing last month of prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi (that often criticized in his Washington Post columns the royal family and Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman) will dictate U.S.-Saudi relations more than any other development since the 1973 Arab oil embargo that sought to punish Washington and its western allies over its support of Israel in the Yom-Kippur War.
The fallout and disapproval has taken on a life of its own in both diplomatic circles and among global media outlets after news initially broke that Jamal Khashoggi had been killed in the Saudi consultant in Istanbul in early October. Not that politically charged killings are anything new, unfortunately, but the problem in this instance was the inconsistencies in the Saudi narrative from the onset.
Saudi officials initially rejected assertions that Khashoggi had even been killed. On October 15, Trump said Saudi Arabia’s King Salman denied any involvement, and the president suggested that “rogue killers” could be responsible for the killing. The next day, Trump said criticism of Saudi Arabia was another case of “guilty until proven innocent.” And the following day, he said he’d contacted Turkish officials and requested audio and video related to the case, “if it exists.”
However, amid all of the uncertainty and political posturing, Turkey pushed its investigation. The Associated Press on October 16 quoted a high-level Turkish official as saying police who entered the consulate found “certain evidence” that Khashoggi was killed there.
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