Amid the backlash over the alleged Saudi killing of journalist and activist Jamal Khashoggi, the United States and Saudi Arabia have reportedly expressed concern regarding whether Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman can help deliver stability to the Mideast and counter the Iranian threat. Many around the world have blamed him for Khashogggi’s death last month at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
“We should not allow an action like that to go unanswered,” Israeli Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer told an audience last week, referring to the killing. “But we also have to be careful about not throwing away a relationship that has strategic value.”
He continued, saying “I think the administration, when they know all the facts, are going to have to decide, how can they on the one hand make clear that this action is unacceptable, but also not throw out the prince with the bathwater, let’s put it that way.”
With “the kingdom’s shifting explanations [having] angered and worried some Trump administration officials, who say the episode may leave the prince with less leverage to lead politically or culturally difficult shifts,” the Trump administration revoked the visas or made travel forbidden for 21 Saudi nationals implicated by Turkey and Saudi Arabia in Khashoggi’s murder, according to The Washington Post.
Along with Dermer, other Israeli officials have also denounced the Khashoggi affair, but stressed the importance of a strategic nexus between the United States, Saudi Arabia and Israel.
“What happened in the Istanbul consulate was horrendous, and it should be duly dealt with,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday. “Yet at the same time, I say that it is very important for the stability of the world, of the region and of the world, that Saudi Arabia remain stable.”
He stated that “a way must be found to achieve both goals because I think that the larger problem is Iran.”
When asked on Monday how Saudi Arabia’s behavior differs from Iran’s, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo responded: “Underwriting Lebanese Hezbollah that presents a threat to the United States of America and Israel; underwriting the Houthis in Yemen, causing an enormous conflict to take place there in that country; the efforts in Iraq to undermine the Iraqi government, funding Shia militias that are not in the best interests of the Iraqi people; their efforts in Syria; the list goes on.
“The difference in behavior between those two countries is remarkable,” continued Pompeo. “Since we’ve taken office, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been very supportive of our efforts on counter-terrorism. They’ve assisted us.”
This is despite Saudi Arabia’s support for terrorist groups, such as Al Qaeda.