Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman reminded U.S. President Joe Biden of humanitarian crimes such as those committed by the U.S. military in Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison, and described the murder of journalist Yamal Khashogi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul — for which the CIA pointed to the prince as ultimately responsible — as a «regrettable mistake» that «will not be repeated» before calling on Biden «not to impose by force» his country’s values.
According to an anonymous Saudi government official told Al Arabiya channel, the crown prince explained to Biden during yesterday’s meeting in Jeddah that «imposing values by force generates counterproductive results», in a reaction to the pressure exerted by Biden during the meeting, in which the crown prince reiterated his innocence.
Khashogi, a columnist for ‘The Washington Post’, went to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018, to pick up some papers in order to marry his fiancée, Hatice Cengiz. However, he was never heard from again, his remains have not been found and Turkish and Western intelligence services point out that the order to kill him could only come from the highest echelons of the Saudi kingdom.
Although at first Riyadh denied any knowledge of Khashogi’s whereabouts, it finally admitted that he was killed and dismembered inside the consulate, a crime for which eight people were convicted, but always denying an alleged involvement of the royal family.
In fact, and according to the official version, Bin Salman assured Biden that his country had taken «all necessary measures on the Khashogi ‘incident’». According to the Saudi version, the prince told Biden that «what happened with Khashogi was unfortunate», and reiterated that the country has «taken all legal measures, including investigations and trials.
«The Kingdom has also put in place measures to prevent such mistakes from happening again in the future,» the unnamed Saudi official paraphrased the prince.
However, and during the meeting, the Saudi prince noted that «incidents» like this can happen anywhere in the world, adding that in the same year other journalists were killed elsewhere.
In the meeting, and according to these Saudi sources, Bin Salman reminded Biden of what happened in the Iraqi prison, epicenter of a torture scandal in 2004, when photos of mistreatment of prisoners went around the world and led to the imprisonment of seven U.S. military personnel.
Therefore, «it is important to know that each country has different values and must be respected», according to the prince, who also warned Biden that if the US only talks with countries that share one hundred percent of its values and principles, «then there will be no countries to talk to except those of NATO».
The Saudi prince also brought up the case of the American Palestinian journalist Shirin abu Akle, killed in May according to the conclusions of the Palestinian government endorsed by the UN as a result of a shot by Israeli security forces, and on which the US has stuck to the Israeli version, which has admitted the possibility but rejected a deliberate assassination.