- Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is facing global outcry over the killing of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
- Khashoggi was killed in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul this past October.
- Crown Prince Mohammed was once seen as the face of reform for Saudi Arabia, but he is now the central villain in Khashoggi’s death.
- The world is slowly turning against the crown prince, and the de facto Saudi ruler is becoming increasingly isolated.
It wasn’t that long ago that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, was seen as someone who would usher in positive change to the kingdom.
Today, Crown Prince Mohammed, 33, is widely viewed as the central villain in the brutal killing of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Khashoggi was killed in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on October 2. Less than two months later, the crown prince’s image as a reformer has been flipped on its head amid global outcry over the killing.
The crown prince was engaged in dubious activities prior to Khashoggi’s death, such as imprisoning his rivals and kidnapping the Lebanese prime minister, but his public image was widely unharmed.
Khashoggi’s killing, however, has dramatically changed the narrative on the crown prince, and the world is slowly turning against him.
Trump is standing by the crown prince, but the rest of Washington is starting to turn against the Saudi ruler
The CIA has reportedly concluded with “high confidence” that the crown prince ordered Khashoggi’s killing, though the Saudi government has vehemently denied this.
President Donald Trump has so far stood by the crown prince as he faces allegations of ordering a hit on Khashoggi. Trump has consequently been accused of once again undermining the US intelligence community, but he’s remained steadfast in his support for the kingdom as he emphasises, and sometimes embellishes, the economic benefits of the US-Saudi partnership.
But other politicians in the US, including some of Trump’s fellow Republicans, are not on the same page.
After a briefing on Khashoggi’s killing on Wednesday, Republican Sen. Bob Corker – the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee – told reporters he didn’t think there was “anybody in the room” who thought the crown prince was not responsible for it.
The US Senate on Wednesday subsequently voted 63-37 to advance a resolution that would end support for Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen. The same resolution failed in the Senate back in March in a 55-44 vote, revealing how quickly feelings have shifted on the US-Saudi relationship among members of Congress.
‘The murderer is not welcome’
Earlier this week, Crown Prince Mohammed faced mass protests in Tunisia as he visited, marking a profound rebuke from the citizens of a fellow Arab country. Protesters chanted “the murderer is not welcome in Tunisia” and “shame on Tunisia’s rulers” for allowing the crown prince into the country, NBC News reported.
A prosecutor in Argentina has agreed to a request from Human Rights Watch to prosecute the crown prince on suspicion of crimes against humanity over mass civilian casualties in Yemen and Khashoggi’s killing, The Guardian reported Wednesday. The crown prince is in Argentina for the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, but The Guardian noted that he was unlikely to face charges before leaving the country.
Several European nations – including Germany, Finland, and Denmark – have all recently announced they would halt arms sales to the Saudis. In justifying their decisions, Germany and Denmark cited Khashoggi’s killing, while Finland pointed to the humanitarian crisis in Yemen.