Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed bin Salman has shown “a level of instability that is chilling,” and US lawmakers will take action against the crown prince for his role in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Senator Lindsey Graham said.
Sanctions are forthcoming, likely in the next few days or weeks, the Republican senator said in an interview on Saturday in Ankara, without providing any specific details on the penalties that may be imposed. “Congress will send a very clear signal to the world and Saudi Arabia that we would not be doing business as usual.”
The heir to Saudi Arabia’s monarchy, widely known as MBS, has so far largely dodged any reprisals against himself, with President Donald Trump opting in November to impose sanctions against 17 lower-level Saudis implicated in the murder following global outrage. Critics in Congress have said that was only an initial step, with a bipartisan group proposing stronger penalties including suspending the sale of arms to the Riyadh government in a challenge to the Trump administration.
“We have to deal with bad people, but we don’t have to have special relationships with bad people,” Graham told Bloomberg News. “There’s strong bipartisan support not only to condemn the actions of Saudi, MBS, but actually do something about it.”
Graham has been an outspoken critic of the crown prince amid Trump’s efforts to maintain ties with the kingdom, which has been an important US ally in the Middle East. The Senator in October slammed MBS as a “wrecking ball” and “toxic” figure who, he said, was directly responsible for the murder of Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul earlier that month. The influential Republican said at the time that he’d support efforts to “sanction the hell out of Saudi Arabia.”
“This is what we expect of rogues, barbarians,” Graham said in the interview Saturday. “To give him a pass would be to open up a Pandora’s box in a region already in turmoil.”