Kushner meets with Saudi king, crown prince to discuss ‘increasing cooperation’

Kushner meets with Saudi king, crown prince to discuss ‘increasing cooperation’
US President Donald Trump’s advisor and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, met Saudi Arabia's king and crown prince to discuss “building up” cooperation while the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi was apparently not even mentioned.

Accompanied by the US Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt and US special representative for Iran, Brian Hook, Kushner met with King Salman – all as part of his trip to the Gulf nations in support for a yet-to-be-unveiled Israeli-Palestinian peace proposal.

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"Building on previous conversations, they discussed increasing cooperation between the United States and Saudi Arabia, and the Trump administration’s efforts to facilitate peace between the Israelis and Palestinians,” the White House said following the talks. The chilling murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, which gripped the world’s attention for months in late 2018, was never mentioned in the statement, though.

After all, why would US officials spoil the lovely atmosphere of cooperation with their major Middle Eastern ally and arms trade partner with such grim details? Khashoggi was brutally killed in the Saudi consulate in Turkey in early October 2018, with his body allegedly being dismembered afterwards. Riyadh has repeatedly changed its story about the journalist’s disappearance and death. So far eleven individuals have been charged by Saudi prosecutors in the journalist’s killing – with five suspects facing the death penalty.

The tragic event, which put relations between Washington and Riyadh to a severe test, seems to be finally a thing of the past as international clamor around it wanes.

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The White House was arguably the last and most adamant champion of the House of Saud in the tumultuous times that followed the grisly assassination, which was largely blamed on the crown prince himself. The CIA“concluded with high confidence” that Mohammed bin Salman ordered the killing and the US Senate passed a resolution blaming the prince for the journalist’s death.

The shocking event even prompted US lawmakers to finally notice the bloody Saudi campaign in Yemen, which has been blatantly disregarded by the Western establishment for years. In mid-February, the House even voted for a 30-day deadline to end assistance to the Saudis in the war-torn Middle Eastern state.

Washington eventually limited itself to imposing economic sanctions on 17 Saudi officials in November for their role in the Khashoggi killing. Despite all the diplomatic fallout, Trump refused to halt weapon sales to Riyadh, describing Saudi arms purchases as vital to the US economy.

The US ally, Germany, went even further and halted all arms sales to the Kingdom. However, the “harshest” statement the White House managed to produce over this period was one issued by Trump, in which he admitted that the crown prince “could very well” have known about the murder but said that this fact does not diminishes Riyadh’s role as a “great ally.”

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On all other occasions, the Trump administration did not admit so much as a thought that their dear allies should be punished. Most recently, Trump outright refused to comply with a law seeking a report to Congress on who is responsible for Khashoggi’s killing. The only ally that the White House seems to have in this unequal battle is the Pentagon, which also believes that Riyadh is just too important to whip.

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