Washington Post Editorial Board Calls Out Biden for Giving MBS a ‘Pass’ on Khashoggi’s Murder

Washington Post

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The Washington Post editorial board called out President Joe Biden for failing to directly sanction Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, the architect of the murder of the paper’s former columnist, Jamal Khashoggi.

On Friday afternoon, the Post‘s published an op-ed entitled “Mohammed bin Salman is guilty of murder. Biden should not give him a pass.” In it, it called out the new Democratic president for his decision not to put in place any kind of official government punishment on MBS, as he’s known, for the killing of Khashoggi, who was a permanent U.S. resident and frequent critic of the Saudi regime.

 The Post’s op-ed was published just hours after a New York Times story went live that summarized a leaked official U.S. intelligence assessment that found bin Salman directed the assassination (and subsequent dismemberment) of Khashoggi. Nevertheless, the Biden White House announced no specific sanctions of MBS, which ignited a swift backlash that had one political observer saying Biden was adopting the same position as former President Donald Trump“save MBS’ ass.”

That was not acceptable to the Post’s board, which called for a enacting a travel ban and asset freeze on MBS.

That heinous crime against a permanent U.S. resident and contributing columnist to The Post should not go unpunished. Under U.S. law, Mohammed bin Salman, or MBS, as he his widely known, ought to be banned from travel to the United States and subjected to an asset freeze. That President Biden has chosen not to pursue that course suggests that the “fundamental” change he promised in U.S.-Saudi relations will not include holding to account its reckless ruler, who consequently is unlikely to be deterred from further criminal behavior.

By failing to do so, the Post hit Biden as essentially flip-flopping on his campaign rhetoric by giving “a pass” to the Saudi Crown Prince. Failure to do so, the paper warned, will only embolden the MBS to kill more dissidents at home or abroad.

Mr. Biden is nevertheless granting what amounts to a pass to a ruler who has sown instability around the Middle East in recent years while presiding over the most severe repression of dissent in modern Saudi history. It is a risky course to adopt in the absence of evidence that MBS is prepared to fundamentally alter his regime. At a minimum, the administration ought to require, as a condition for normal relations, that the architect of the Khashoggi murder and other human rights offenses — Saud al-Qahtani, a close aide of MBS named in the CIA report — be brought to justice. If the criminal apparatus MBS employed against Khashoggi is not dismantled, there will be more victims.

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