US Senators Call for Sanctions against Saudi Arabia but Riyadh warns Action against Crown Prince a 'Red Line'
Journalist Jamal Khashoggi (Photo Credits: Twitter | @TwitterMoments)

Despite US President Donald Trump’s statement on Tuesday which called Saudi Arabia a “strong and steadfast ally”, many from his own party are not convinced that those behind the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi should face no consequences.

Republican Senator Bob Corker from the Foreign Affairs Committee and Democratic Senator Bob Menendez called on Trump, in a letter sent on Tuesday, to investigate the part Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman played in Khashoggi's death after the CIA reportedly determined the killing was ordered by the Saudi crown prince.

"In light of recent developments, including the Saudi government’s acknowledgement that Saudi officials killed Mr. Khashoggi in its Istanbul consulate, we request that your determination specifically address whether [MBS] is responsible for Mr. Khashoggi’s murder", Corker and Menendez wrote.

The senators invoked the Global Magnitsky Act, which allows the US government to sanction individuals who are found to have committed "gross" human rights violations.

Trump has maintained that there is no definitive proof of the Khashoggi being killed at the Crown Prince’s behest and hence he does not see the need to put at risk arms and trade deals worth billions of dollars over this situation.  In his statement, Trump said it "could be very well that the crown prince had knowledge of this tragic event - maybe he did and maybe he didn't!"

But there is a growing chorus from Trump’s own party over the lack of US government action against Saudi Arabia over this brutal, cold-blooded murder. Several US senators vowed to put "serious sanctions" on Saudi Arabia, including on the "appropriate members of the royal family".

Republican Senator Rand Paul said, "We should, at the very least, NOT reward Saudi Arabia with our sophisticated armaments that they in turn use to bomb civilians," in a tweet. "I'm pretty sure this statement is Saudi Arabia first, not American First," he added.

Trump ally and Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said "it is not in our national security interest to look the other way" when it comes to Khashoggi's killing.

Those in Riyadh have been taken aback by the international reaction to Khashoggi’s murder and despite Trump’s backing they realise that the US Congress is powerful enough to act on its own that could seriously harm the finances of Saudi Arabia.

In what can only be called a warning to those voicing their lack of confidence in Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, the country’s foreign minister has said calls to remove Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman are a "red line".

Speaking to BBC, Adel al-Jubeir reiterated that MBS had no knowledge of the plan to kill the Saudi political columnist and added, “In Saudi Arabia our leadership is a red line. The custodian of the two holy mosques [King Salman] and the Crown Prince (Mohammed bin Salman) are a red line.”

He also repeated the King’s confidence in the country’s justice department, “We have investigations ongoing and we will punish the individuals who are responsible for this," he said.

However,  with the scope and preparation that went into the killing of Jamal Khashoggi as well as the intelligence officials of two countries – Turkey and U.S. almost confirming that the journalist was killed on order of the Crown Prince, it remains to be seen what will Saudi Arabia do to protect the royals.