UK foreign office says its exploring a sanctions regime with the EU against Saudi Arabia

UK foreign office says it\s exploring a \sanctions regime\ with the EU against Saudi Arabia
Saudi crown prince will be at G20 summit later this month: Saudi media
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will attend the Group of 20 summit in Buenos Aires later this month, Saudi media reported Monday, potentially bringing him face-to-face with world leaders from the United States, Turkey, Canada and European countries for the first time since the slaying of Jamal Khashoggi. 

The two-day summit begins Nov. 30. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has kept international pressure mounting on the kingdom, is expected to attend.

After offering numerous contradictory explanations for Khashoggis disappearance, Riyadh said last week he had been killed and his body dismembered when “negotiations” to convince him to return to Saudi Arabia failed. The public prosecutor said it would seek the death penalty for five suspects in the case.

Saudi media outlets, including Al Arabiya, quoted Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih as saying that the crown prince's stop in Argentina will be part of a foreign tour, but no further details were immediately released.

World leaders, many of whom are expected at the G20 summit, have strongly condemned Khashoggi's slaying and have urged Saudi Arabia to hold everyone involved in the killing accountable.

“They discussed Yemen, Syria, Cyprus, as well as the murder of Jamal Khashoggi,” U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters. On a possible U.N. inquiry into Khashoggi, he added: “We have not received any formal request from the Turkish side.”

U.S. intelligence officials have concluded that the crown prince personally ordered the killing, and experts say such an operation is unlikely to have occurred without the knowledge of the crown prince, who controls all major levers of power in the kingdom. 

U.S. President Donald Trump has said his administration will get "a very full report," including who was responsible for Khashoggi's death, today or tomorrow. Trump has criticized the Saudi response to the killing, but has been reluctant to say definitively if he thinks the crown prince ordered it.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu did not request a U.N. inquiry into the death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi when he met with U.N. Secretary-General con Monday, a U.N. spokesman said, though they did discuss the case.

18 Saudis linked to Khashoggi murder banned from European border-free zone

Saudi authorities, who have offered a series of conflicting accounts since Khashoggi first went missing, deny the crown prince was involved in the killing.

Ban consulted Pakistani officials and members of the U.N. Security Council. He then notified the 15-member council in 2009 of his intention to establish an inquiry and was given informal approval by the body to do so in a letter.

Americas Spies Wont Let Trump Shield MBS

Saudi investigators say a 15-man team sent to Istanbul exceeded their authority when the lead negotiator decided to kill Khashoggi for refusing orders to return to Saudi Arabia.

They say a precedent was set for such a move in 2008 when Pakistan asked then U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to establish an international inquiry into the assassination of Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

Saudi prosecutors said last week they're seeking the death penalty against five men suspected of killing Khashoggi, who had written critically of the crown prince in columns for the Washington Post.

Murdered: In the audio allegedly recorded at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on the day of Jamal Khashoggis murder, the journalist is called a traitor and told he will be held to account

Turkey and Saudi Arabia say that after the agents killed Khashoggi, they then dismembered his body, which has not been found.

The audio allegedly also includes a conversation between members of the hit squad during which one of them complains about wearing Khashoggis clothing to act as a decoy after his murder.

U.S. spy chiefs should publicly report on Khashoggi death: Senator

On Monday, the crown prince's father King Salman gave his first major speech since Khashoggi's death, expressing support for his son, but making no mention of allegations that the young royal ordered the killing.

Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi can be heard ordering his killers to release him in the audio recording of his murder, according to Turkish media.

The annual policy speech by the king instead highlighted Saudi Arabia's priorities for the coming year, focusing on issues such as the war in Yemen, security for Palestinians, stability in the oil market, countering rival Iran and job creation for Saudis.

In the recording, the 59-year-old journalist is allegedly called a traitor and told that he will be held to account by his killers.

In the wake of Khashoggi's killing, the 82-year-old monarch put the crown prince in charge of overseeing the reorganization of the kingdom's intelligence services. The king's speech made no reference to that, but he did commend Saudi Arabia's judiciary and public prosecution for their work in seeking justice in accordance with Islamic law.

This past week, U.S. intelligence officials briefed members of the Senate and House intelligence committees on their conclusions, and the Treasury Department announced economic sanctions on 17 Saudi officials suspected of being responsible for or complicit in the killing. Among those sanctioned was al-Qahtani, who was fired from his post as the crown princes adviser after details of the killing emerged.

He said the kingdom "takes pride in the blessed efforts" of the judiciary and public prosecution, adding that Saudi Arabia affirms its commitment to the application of Islamic law.

Trump says no reason for him to hear Khashoggi death tape

Also on Monday, Germany banned 18 Saudis suspected of involvement in the Khashoggi killing from much of Europe and moved to halt all arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

On Thursday, Saudi prosecutors said they are seeking the death penalty against five men suspected of killing Khashoggi, who had written critically of the crown prince in columns for The Washington Post. The prosecutors announcement sought to quiet the global outcry over Khashoggis death and distance the killers and their operation from the crown prince.

Video: Trump Wont Listen To Record Of Journalist Jamal Khashoggis Final Moments

U.S. senator urges spy chiefs to issue public report on Khashoggi killing

The bans bind all members of the European Union's passport-free Schengen zone, suggesting Germany is willing to use its influence as the EU's largest country to push for a tougher line.

U.S. intelligence officials, however, have concluded that the crown prince ordered the killing, according to a U.S. official familiar with the assessment. Others familiar with the case caution that while its likely that the crown prince was involved in the death, there continue to be questions about what role he played.

It covers the 15 members of the squad suspected of killing Khashoggi, and a further three suspected of organizing the murder, German Foreign Ministry spokesperson Christofer Burger said, without naming them.

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Saudi prosecutors say the 15-man team sent to Istanbul exceeded their authority when the lead negotiator in the team decided to kill Khashoggi for refusing orders to return. The Saudis say the agents killed Khashoggi with tranquilizers and then dismembered his body, which has not been found.

Amid international uproar over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, some members of Saudi Arabia‘s ruling family are agitating to prevent Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman from becoming king, three sources close to the royal court said.

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Saudi Arabias King Salman on Monday gave his first major speech since the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents, expressing support for his son, the crown prince, and making no mention of allegations that the young royal ordered the killing.

Dozens of princes and cousins from powerful branches of the Al Saud family want to see a change in the line of succession but would not act while King Salman – the crown princes 82-year-old father – is still alive, the sources said. They recognize that the king is unlikely to turn against his favorite son, known in the West as MbS.

Video: Khashoggi evidence points to Saudi crown prince, and the U.S. faces a dilemma

Rather, they are discussing the possibility with other family members that after the king’s death, Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz, 76, a younger full brother of King Salman and uncle of the crown prince, could take the throne, according to the sources.

Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri, who has received a confidential intelligence briefing on the matter, told ABC News "it's hard to imagine" that the crown prince didn't know about the killing, but he said, "I don't know that we absolutely know that yet."

Trump dilemma: Preserve Saudi alliance or declare prince a murderer

Prince Ahmed, King Salmans only surviving full brother, would have the support of family members, the security apparatus and some Western powers, one of the Saudi sources said.

The move comes a day after U.S. President Donald Trump said there was no reason for him to listen to a recording of the "very violent, very vicious" killing of Khashoggi, a columnist for the Washington Post who had been critical of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Prince Ahmed returned to Riyadh in October after 2-1/2 months abroad. During the trip, he appeared to criticize the Saudi leadership while responding to protesters outside a London residence chanting for the downfall of the Al Saud dynasty. He was one of only three people on the Allegiance Council, made up of the ruling family’s senior members, who opposed MbS becoming crown prince in 2017, two Saudi sources said at the time.

Neither Prince Ahmed nor his representatives could be reached for comment. Officials in Riyadh did not immediately respond to requests from Reuters for comment on succession issues.

"We have co-ordinated closely with our French and British friends and decided, as Germany, to put an entry ban beside their names in the Schengen system database," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Christofer Burger told a news conference.

The House of Saud is made up of hundreds of princes. Unlike typical European monarchies, there is no automatic succession from father to eldest son. Instead the kingdoms tribal traditions dictate that the king and senior family members from each branch select the heir they consider fittest to lead.

Video: Saudi King Stands By Crown Prince

Senior U.S. officials have indicated to Saudi advisers in recent weeks that they would support Prince Ahmed, who was deputy interior minister for nearly 40 years, as a potential successor, according to Saudi sources with direct knowledge of the consultations.

These Saudi sources said they were confident that Prince Ahmed would not change or reverse any of the social or economic reforms enacted by MbS, would honor existing military procurement contracts and would restore the unity of the family.

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One senior U.S. official said the White House is in no hurry to distance itself from the crown prince despite pressure from lawmakers and the CIAs assessment that MbS ordered Khashoggis murder, though that could change once Trump gets a definitive report on the killing from the intelligence community.

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The official also said the White House saw it as noteworthy that King Salman seemed to stand by his son in a speech in Riyadh on Monday and made no direct reference to Khashoggis killing, except to praise the Saudi public prosecutor.

Germanys economy ministry oversees the authorization of arms exports. Ministry spokesman Philipp Jornitz said Monday that the German government is working with those who have valid authorizations with the result that there are currently no (weapons) exports from Germany to Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi sources said U.S. officials had cooled on MbS not only because of his suspected role in the murder of Khashoggi. They are also rankled because the crown prince recently urged the Saudi defense ministry to explore alternative weapons supplies from Russia, the sources said.

Also on Monday, Germanys foreign minister said Berlin has banned 18 Saudi nationals from entering Europes border-free Schengen zone because they are believed connected to Khashoggis killing. Heiko Maas said there are still more questions than answers.

In a letter dated May 15, seen by Reuters, the crown prince requested that the defense ministry “focus on purchasing weapon systems and equipment in the most pressing fields” and get training on them, including the Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile system.

Maas told reporters in Brussels on Monday that Germany issued the ban for the 26-nation zone in close coordination with France, which is part of the Schengen area, and Britain, which is not.

Neither the Russian defense ministry nor officials in Riyadh immediately responded to Reuters requests for comment.

Saudi foreign minister says CIA assessment on Khashoggi murder is false

The brutal killing of Khashoggi, a prominent critic of the crown prince, in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last month has drawn global condemnation, including from many politicians and officials in the United States, a key Saudi ally. The CIA believes the crown prince ordered the killing, according to U.S. sources familiar with the assessment.

The German government says it has halted previously approved arms exports to Saudi Arabia amid the fallout from the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The international uproar has piled pressure on a royal court already divided over 33-year-old Prince Mohammed’s rapid rise to power. Since his ascension, the prince has gained popular support with high-profile social and economic reforms including ending a ban on women driving and opening cinemas in the conservative kingdom.

Germany said a month ago it wouldnt approve any new weapons exports to Saudi Arabia, but left open what would happen with already approved contracts.

His reforms have been accompanied by a crackdown on dissent, a purge of top royals and businessmen on corruption charges, and a costly war in Yemen.

Saudi King Salman: We directed Crown Prince to prepare the future generation

He has also marginalized senior members of the royal family and consolidated control over Saudis security and intelligence agencies.

He first ousted then-powerful crown prince and interior minister Mohammed bin Nayef (MbN), 59, in June 2017. Then he removed Prince Miteb bin Abdullah, 65, son of the late King Abdullah, as head of the National Guard and detained him as part of an anti-corruption campaign.

Some 30 other princes were also arrested, mistreated, humiliated and stripped of their wealth, even as MbS splashed out on palaces, a $500 million yacht, and set a new record in the international art market with the purchase of a painting by Italian Renaissance engineer and painter Leonardo Da Vinci.

According to one well-placed Saudi source, many princes from senior circles in the family believe a change in the line of succession “would not provoke any resistance from the security or intelligence bodies he controls” because of their loyalty to the wider family.

The United States, a key ally in economic and security terms, is likely to be a determining factor in how matters unfold in Saudi Arabia, the Saudi sources and diplomats say.

Germany bans 18 Saudi suspects and arms sales over Khashoggi case

President Donald Trump on Saturday called the CIA assessment that MbS ordered Khashoggi’s killing “very premature” but “possible,” and said he would receive a complete report on the case on Tuesday.

Trump and his son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner have cultivated deep personal relationships with the crown prince. One Saudi insider said MbS feels he still has their support and is willing to “roll some heads to appease the U.S.”

Saudi king backs son amid furore over Khashoggi murder

But Trump and top administration officials have said Saudi officials should be held to account for any involvement in Khashoggis death and have imposed sanctions on 17 Saudis for their alleged role – including one of MbS’s closest aides.

U.S. lawmakers are meanwhile pushing legislation to punish Riyadh for the killing, and both Republican and Democratic senators have urged Trump to get tough on the crown prince.

King Salman, 82, is aware of the consequences of a major clash with the United States and the possibility that Congress could try to freeze Saudi assets.

Those who have met the king recently say he appeared to be in denial about the role of MbS in what happened, believing there to be a conspiracy against the kingdom. But they added that he looked burdened and worried.

When the king dies or is no longer be able to rule, the 34-member Allegiance Council, a body representing each line of the ruling family to lend legitimacy to succession decisions, would not automatically declare MbS the new king.

Even as crown prince, MbS would still need the council to ratify his ascension, one of the three Saudi sources said. While the council accepted King Salman’s wish to make MbS crown prince, it would not necessarily accept MbS becoming king when his father dies, especially given that he sought to marginalize council members.

READ MORE: From fistfight to death penalties — How Saudi Arabia changed its tone on Jamal Khashoggis killing

The Saudi sources say MbS has destroyed the institutional pillars of nearly a century of Al Saud rule: the family, the clerics, the tribes and the merchant families. They say this is seen inside the family as destabilizing.

Some insiders believe he built his father a new but remote Red Sea palace in Sharma, at the Neom City development site — thrown up in a record one year at a cost of $2 billion — as a gilded cage for his retirement.

Germany fully halts arms exports to Riyadh & hits 18 Saudis with travel bans over Khashoggi

The site is isolated, the closest city of Tabouk more than 100 km (60 miles) away. Residence there would keep the king out of the loop on most affairs of state, one of the sources close to the royal family said.