03 January 2020

 

Predictions

  • Sentencing of Saudis accused of Khashoggi murder will fail to alleviate reputational concerns for foreign firms
  • US sanctions against Saud al-Qahtani will mean former royal adviser…
  • Crown Prince will continue to pursue business-friendly social and economic…

 

Analysis

Saudi authorities announced on 23 December that five people had been sentenced to death for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The sentences follow a year-long closed trial. Three other people were reportedly sentenced to jail terms over the killing, while the court dismissed charges against former Deputy Intelligence Chief Ahmed al-Assiri. Saud al-Qahtani, a former royal advisor implicated in the murder, avoided trial reportedly because of a lack of evidence over his alleged involvement. The public prosecutor also said that evidence presented at the trial indicated the murder had not been premeditated. In Washington, the White House released a statement calling the verdict an “important step” towards holding those responsible to account.

Khashoggi’s murder at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018 caused an international outcry. A UN investigation into his death concluded in June that there was “credible evidence” linking high-level Saudi officials, including Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS), to the murder. A CIA assessment from November 2018 also concluded that MbS had most likely authorised the killing. Riyadh, however, blamed “rogue” Saudi intelligence agents. Despite international concerns, US President Trump has remained supportive of MbS. Washington also displayed a level of coordination with Riyadh when it sanctioned

Humanitarian activists hold a poster with a picture of Jamal Khashoggi

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