The administration of US President Donald Trump is trying to “whitewash” Saudi Arabia’s murder of missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a former American diplomat says.
Speaking to Press TV on Tuesday, Michael Springmann, a former US diplomat in Jeddah, said US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s recent trip to Saudi Arabia was an attempt by President Donald Trump to gloss over Saudi Arabia’s deeds.
“This is absolutely astonishing, astounding, outrageous… you name the superlative,” Springmann said. “The Americans are obviously working to keep the Saudis close to them and the Saudis are working to keep the Americans close to them.”
“It is scarcely conceivable that the president of the United States would send his secretary of state over to Saudi Arabia and not talk tough with them,” he said.
Khashoggi went missing after entering the Saudi consulate in Turkey’s Istanbul on October 2. Turkish and American intelligence communities agree that he was murdered there and his dismembered body was sent back to Saudi Arabia.
Having promised to “punish” the perpetrators while saving ties with Saudi Arabia, Trump sent Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Riyadh in an attempt to put off international pressure over his lackluster reaction to Khashoggi’s disappearance.
After arriving in Riyadh earlier in the day, Pompeo met with Saudi King Salman and MBS, where he hailed strong ties between the sides.
Pompeo’s complimentary tone with the Saudi king further confirms the Trump administration’s lack of enthusiasm to get to the bottom of issue.
Trump has pledged to “punish” Saudi Arabia if it turns out that Khashoggi was indeed murdered at the consulate. But there is a catch.
The American head of state has also made it clear that whatever those punishments are, they would not endanger ties with Riyadh, particularly the $110 billion weapons deal that he signed with the kingdom during his maiden foreign visit last year.
The reason, according to Springmann, was that neither the White House nor American and Saudi “weapons merchants” wanted the profitable military ties between the two sides to be jeopardized.
Springmann said Khashoggi was not the first dissident to be taken out by the Saudi regime.
“He supported the Saudi government until he picked the wrong prince,” he said. “He is not the first of the people to disappear the Saudis have a long history of executing people, diverting people and hiding them in prisons.”
Since rising to power last year, bin Salman has been going after billionaire Saudi princes as well as dissident scholars and activists in an attempt to cement his standing.
The Riyadh regime has bagged over $100 billion by forcing some princes to buy their freedom. It has also issued numerous death sentences for dissident activists.
Springmann said the US should sanction Saudi Arabia over this and other similar incidents in the past.