A newly released declassified US Intelligence report stated that Saudi Arabia’s crown prince likely approved the killing of U.S.-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. The latest version of Khashoggi story has intensified the pressure on the Biden administration to hold the kingdom accountable for a murder that drew worldwide outrage. Shortly after the findings were released, the State Department announced a new policy, called the “Khashoggi Ban,” that will allow the U.S. to deny visas to people who harm, threaten or spy on journalists on behalf of a foreign government. It also said it would impose visa restrictions on 76 Saudi individuals who have engaged or threatened dissidents overseas.
The official rebirth of an old assumption or a fact tailored in such a way intentionally to meet the requirement of the issuing state has open up a new chapter in US-Saudi relations.
United States Treasury Department also announced sanctions against a former Saudi intelligence official, Ahmad Hassan Mohammed al Asiri, who U.S. officials say was the operation’s ringleader. During a media briefing, White House press secretary Jen Psaki has told reporters that the administration intends to “recalibrate” the U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia.
With the arrival of Biden administration in the white house, the new American great game has started in the Middle East. Players are the same, but the new stage has been set, priorities are the same but the methods to reach the objectives are different. The latest episode of developments illustrates that the things have been arranged in a sequence that within hours of release of the intelligence assessment, the Khashoggi ban has been introduced, sanctions were imposed and announcement for recalibration of US-Saudi relationship has been made in a haste. After two years of killing of a US based Saudi Journalist, the American officials have felt that they should take the journalist’s death “very seriously” and promised to get to the bottom of what happened inside the consulate, in the same go, they acknowledge the Saudi Arabia’s key role on combating terrorism and fighting Iran’s influence in the Middle East.
One thinks, what could be the objectives behind this new Policy pivot of United States. There are a number of possibilities behind this US move against Saudi Arabia. First, to get recognition of Israel from KSA, containment of Saudi Arabia’s influence in the region or launch of diplomatic offensive aimed at targeting Kingdom’s internal laws to provide maximum freedom under so-called policy of human rights protection in the backdrop of Khashoggi case. The current US policy steps reveals that now American has turned its focus toward Saudi Arabia. All these efforts are aimed at creating a great change in internal and external policies of the Kingdom. For this purpose, cooperation from Iran can be sort by the United States in reward of providing some temporary relief in economic sanctions.
Presently, only those states are stable politically and economically in the Middle East region and neighborhood of Israel, where Monarch is ruling and political freedoms are restricted, whereas, all democratic countries are facing internal unrest and chaos. The United States had taken up the story of Jamal Khashoggi and various segments of its systems will continue to explore and continue to give new twists to the story, as reason to more tighten the rope of the Kingdom. However, it is test time for Saudi Arabia, how successfully it can tackle the situation and divert US pressure in coming days.