U.S. president Trump is facing strong internal pressure to punish Saudi Arabia in the coming days.
For Washington, however, this could be a double-edged sword, as turning on Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman could result in two unwanted major geopolitical consequences. The still fresh Jamal Khashoggi murder case continues to make headlines due to a relentless anti-Saudi media and a diplomatic offensive by Turkey, Qatar and Western diplomats, and it could trigger the largest U.S.-Saudi/Arab crisis in decades.
U.S. politicians have set their sights on the position of the young Saudi Crown Prince, based on still unsubstantiated claims of direct involvement by Ankara and unnamed CIA-officials, U.S. president Trump finds himself backed into a corner to deal directly with the Kingdom.
Until now, the U.S. Administration has refrained from mentioning the direct involvement of MbS in the murder of the former Saudi journalist, but has put sanctions on the officials being connected to the case. Inside of the Kingdom, the pressure is also increasing but this time not to remove MbS, but instead to prepare a harsh response to any possible U.S. claims or sanctions on Royal Family members. Senior Saudi officials have already indicated that a direct attack by Washington or European leaders will be met by severe repercussions.
A Western-Turkish move to pressure Saudi King Salman to remove his son from power is at present unrealistic. Looking at the ongoing situation inside of the Kingdom, and in the Arab world, the support gathered the last weeks by the Saudis from their allies UAE, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon, is clear. No Arab country will allow for a ruling Crown Prince to be removed from power by an outside, non-Arab entity.
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