Turkey seeks arrest of Saudi crown prince allies over Khashoggi

REUTERS  Danny Moloshok

REUTERS Danny Moloshok

Members of the Senate's Committee on Foreign Relations did not mince words after the briefing by CIA Director Gina Haspel on Tuesday.

A Turkish court has issued arrest warrants for two suspects close to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, raising pressure on the kingdom's de facto leader after two USA senators accused him of ordering the hit.

"It is zero chance, zero, that this happened in such an organized fashion without the [Saudi] crown prince", Graham added.

Haspel had faced mounting pressure to speak to lawmakers and more fully explain the CIA's findings, which President Trump has said don't conclusively show that Mohammed was involved in the assassination. "If the Saudi government is going to be in the hands of this man for a long time to come, I find it very hard to be able to do business, because I think he's insane, I think he is risky and he has put the relationship at risk".

Last week, Haspel did not attend a briefing about Khashoggi's killing that was given to all senators by Defense Secretary James Mattis and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

"It's not in our interests to give the crown prince. a pass for murder of an American resident with three American children", Graham said.

The House hasn't indicated it plans to move forward with a similar debate.

Illinois Sen. Richard Durbin said the briefing with Haspel "clearly went in to an evaluation of the intelligence" and was much more informative than the session with Mattis and Pompeo.

Senators put themselves in direct opposition to the White House, making clear that the evidence they heard had convinced them beyond the shadow of a doubt.

When asked to explain the mixed messaging, Rubio said Trump's cabinet was "carrying out the policy of the administration", and America doesn't require a smoking gun to take action on a diplomatic level. Trump has, however, imposed sanctions on 17 Saudis for their alleged role in the murder.

Graham said he would not vote for the Yemen resolution. He was not at the Central Intelligence Agency briefing because it was limited to certain foreign policy committees.

"There's a smoking saw", Graham said, referring to reports from the Turkish government that said Saudi agents used a bone saw to dismember Khashoggi after he was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. "I can not support arm sales to Saudi Arabia as long as he's in charge". He said he would "question somebody's judgment if they couldn't figure this out".

Rubio, who sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee, was not present at the briefing but said that he had existing knowledge of what was discussed during the briefing.

Graham also said he would offer a sense of the Senate measure that names the crown prince as responsible for the murder of Khashoggi and that he would not support further arm sales to the kingdom until all individuals complicit in the murder "have been brought to justice". I have no question whatsoever now: "The crown prince directed the murder and was kept apprised of the situation all the way through".

Graham also said that he would not support the current USA military efforts to support Saudi Arabia in its war against Houthi rebels in Yemen.

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