The United States on Monday urged Saudi Arabia to disband an elite unit controlled by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that Washington sanctioned more than the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
“We have urged Saudi Arabia to disband this group and then adopt institutional, systemic reforms and controls to ensure that anti-dissident activities and operations cease and cease completely,” State Department spokesman Ned Price stated of the Rapid Intervention Force.
He also named on Saudi Arabia to take additional action following final month provisionally releasing Loujain al-Hathloul, an advocate for women’s correct to drive in the ultra-conservative kingdom who was jailed for almost 3 years.
“We are urging Saudi Arabia to take additional steps to lift travel bans on those released to commute sentences and resolve cases such as those of women’s rights activists and others,” Price stated.
President Joe Biden on Friday declassified an intelligence report that located that Prince Mohammed ordered the 2018 killing of Khashoggi, a US-based contributor to The Washington Post who was lured into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
The report located that seven of the 15 members of the hit squad that flew to Istanbul came from the Rapid Intelligence Force, which it stated “exists to defend the crown prince” and “answers only to him.”
The Treasury Department imposed sanctions on the force — which means any US transactions with it will be a crime — but the administration stopped brief of personally targeting the effective crown prince.
Price, following up on Friday’s release of the report, vowed that the Biden administration would place a larger priority on human rights following former president Donald Trump’s chummy partnership with the Saudis.
“We have made crystal clear and will continue to do so that the brutal killing of Jamal Khashoggi 28 months ago remains unacceptable conduct,” Price stated.
He stated the United States would keep its longstanding alliance with the oil-creating kingdom but stated “we can only address these many important challenges in a partnership with Saudi Arabia that respects America’s values.”