- Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is facing global outcry over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
- Khashoggi was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul this past October.
- Prince Mohammed was once seen as the face of reform for the kingdom, but is now the central villain in the controversy over Khashoggi.
- The world is slowly turning against the crown prince, the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, and he’s becoming increasingly isolated.
It wasn’t that long ago that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the de facto ruler of the kingdom, was seen as someone who would modernize his country.
Today, Prince Mohammed, 33, is widely viewed as the central villain in the brutal killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Khashoggi was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2. Less than two months later, the crown prince’s image as a reformer has been flipped on its head amid global outcry over the killing.
The crown prince was engaged in dubious activities prior to Khashoggi’s killing, such as kidnapping the Lebanese prime minister and imprisoning his rivals, but he largely continued to receive favorable coverage.
Khashoggi’s killing, however, has dramatically changed the narrative on Prince Mohammed and the world is slowly turning against him.
Trump is standing by the crown prince, but the rest of Washington is starting to turn against the Saudi ruler
The CIA reportedly concluded with “high confidence” that Prince Mohammed ordered the killing, though the Saudi government has vehemently denied this.
President Donald Trump has so far stood by the crown prince as he faces allegations of ordering the hit on Khashoggi. Trump has consequently been accused of once again undermining the US intelligence community, but he’s remained steadfast in his support for the kingdom as he emphasizes the purported economic benefits of the US-Saudi partnership.
But other politicians in the US, including some of Trump’s fellow Republicans, are not on the same page.
After a briefing on Khashoggi’s killing on Wednesday, Republican Sen. Bob Corker – chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee – told reporters, “I don’t think there’s anybody in the room that doesn’t believe [Prince Mohammed] was responsible for it.”
The US Senate on Wednesday subsequently voted 63-37 to advance a resolution to end support for Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen. The same resolution failed in the Senate back in March in a 55-44 vote, revealing how quickly feelings have shifted on the US-Saudi relationship among members of Congress.
‘The murderer is not welcome’
Earlier this week, Prince Mohammed faced mass protests in Tunisia as he visited, marking a profound rebuke from the citizens of a fellow Arab country. Protesters chanted “the murderer is not welcome in Tunisia” and “shame on Tunisia’s rulers” for allowing the crown prince into the country, NBC News reported.
Meanwhile, a prosecutor in Argentina has agreed to a request from Human Rights Watch to prosecute the crown prince for crimes against humanity, including mass civilian casualties in Yemen and Khashoggi’s killing, The Guardian reported.
Several European nations – including Germany, Finland, and Denmark – have all recently announced they would halt arms sales to the Saudis. In justifying their respective decisions, Germany and Denmark specifically cited Khashoggi’s killing, while Finland pointed to the humanitarian crisis in Yemen.
Indeed, the crown prince now faces opposition in multiple corners of the world, and growing resistance in Congress to the historic US partnership with his country.