Published: Wed, October 17, 2018
Sci-tech | By April Francis

Why is President Trump letting the Saudis push him around?

Why is President Trump letting the Saudis push him around?

The residence of the Saudi consul is cordoned off by Turkish police in Istanbul, on October 16, 2018, the day after Turkish police and prosecutors searched the Saudi embassy after Riyadh gave the green-light amid global uproar over the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi since October 2.

The top United States diplomat also said the Saudi leadership "strongly denied any knowledge of what took place in their consulate in Istanbul". "We face our challenges together - the past, the day of, tomorrow".

Saudi Arabia promised to ensure a thorough probe and accountability over a missing Saudi journalist but stood by denials the kingdom killed him, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday, as he paid a supportive visit to the under-fire ally.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has arrived in Saudi Arabia to meet with King Salman over the disappearance and alleged slaying of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi.

Trump has threatened "severe punishment" if it turns out Khashoggi was killed in the consulate, although he has ruled out cancelling arms deals worth tens of billions of dollars with Saudi Arabia.

The Washington Post has previously cited unnamed USA and Turkish officials pointing to audio and video recordings that supposedly prove Khashoggi was killed inside the consulate and was then dismembered.

A search was due to be conducted on Tuesday of the consul's residence, some 200 metres away from the consulate.

Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist, went missing on October 2. "Saudi Arabia, I get along with all of them", Trump said.

One of the suspected Saudi agents whom Turkey says were briefly in Istanbul at the time of Khashoggi's disappearance was frequently seen with bin Salman, according to The New York Times. But Khashoggi's disappearance has led several business leaders and media outlets to back out of the upcoming investment conference in Riyadh, called the Future Investment Initiative.

Sources claimed that Khashoggi was beaten, drugged, and eventually killed in the Saudi consul general's office.

Saudi officials have vehemently denied involvement in Khashoggi's disappearance two weeks ago, while Turkish officials have forged ahead with their own investigation.

Pompeo met with Saudi King Salman and his son, the 33-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, on Tuesday.

The New York Times linked three others to the crown prince's security detail. They put the president at odds with other key allies and with some leaders in his Republican Party who have condemned the Saudi leadership for what they say is an obvious role in the case.

Pompeo was dispatched for sit-downs with King Salman and the crown prince, who reportedly ordered the operation against Khashoggi.

The Associated Press also quoted an unnamed high-level Turkish official as saying during a search of the consulate Turkish crime scene investigators found evidence of Khashoggi's killing, but did not give further details. The president has said he would be reluctant to cancel multibillion-dollar arms sales to the kingdom out of concern the US ally will turn to Russian Federation or China instead.

The newspaper said Saudi Consul General Mohammed al-Otaibi could be heard on the tape, telling those allegedly torturing Khashoggi: "Do this outside; you're going to get me in trouble".

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