Saudi Arabia has warned that criticism of Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is a “red line,” after US President Donald Trump heaped praise on the kingdom in defiance of warnings he was giving Riyadh a pass on a journalist’s grisly murder.
Saudi Arabian Minister of Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir on Wednesday said that calls for the crown prince to be held accountable for the grisly killing of Jamal Khashoggi would not be tolerated.
His comments came as the US president praised Saudi Arabia for keeping oil prices low — one strand of his argument against punishing Riyadh, even though the CIA reportedly found strong evidence that the crown prince, the de facto Saudi Arabian leader, was involved in the murder.
“In Saudi Arabia, our leadership is a red line. The custodian of the two holy mosques [Saudi Arabian King Salman] and the crown prince are a red line,” al-Jubeir told the BBC. “They represent every Saudi citizen and every Saudi citizen represents them, and we will not tolerate any discussion of anything that is disparaging towards our monarch or our crown prince.”
Khashoggi, a US resident who wrote for the Washington Post and had been critical of Prince Mohammed, was lured to the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, on Oct. 2, killed and reportedly dismembered.
After lengthy denials, Saudi Arabian authorities admitted responsibility and said that 21 people had been taken into custody.
However, a CIA analysis leaked to the US media went further, reportedly pointing the finger at the crown prince.
However, Trump, on vacation at his Florida Mar-a-Lago Club, on Wednesday doubled down on a statement from Tuesday that he was essentially ignoring the killing of Khashoggi because of what he said were more important US strategic and commercial interests.
“Oil prices getting lower. Great! Like a big Tax Cut for America and the World. Enjoy! $54, was just $82,” Trump said on Twitter. “Thank you to Saudi Arabia, but let’s go lower!”
Al-Jubeir insisted that Prince Mohammed had not been involved in the killing.
“We have made that very clear. We have investigations ongoing and we will punish the individuals who are responsible for this,” he said.
The murder was a “rogue operation” by intelligence officers, he said, adding that any possible US sanctions on Saudi Arabia would be short-sighted.
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