Saudis Involved In Journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s Assassination Received US Paramilitary Training

The four men received training in surveillance and close-quarters combat.

The four Saudi men, who were involved in the killing of the Saudi journalist and critic, Jamal Khashoggi, received paramilitary training in the US under a state-approved contract, according to New York Times.

The four men were trained by Arkansas-based security company Tier 1 Group, owned by private equity firm, Cerberus Capital Management.

They received training in surveillance and close-quarters combat. Yet, the Tier 1 Group insists that the training was defensive in nature.

In 2014, Saudi officials received a license from Barack Obama’s administration to receive what they call defensive training. These activities continued during the Trump era too.

However, the report has not revealed whether the firm knew about the Saudis’ mission in Turkey.

Louis Bremer, a senior executive of Cerberus, the parent company of Tier 1, said that the training provided was unrelated to their subsequent heinous acts.

Bremer added that the US department and other government agencies are the ones responsible for granting training licenses to foreign forces in the US.

State department spokesperson Ned Price said the department cannot comment “on any of the licensed defense export licensing activity alleged in media reporting”.

Hypocrisy at its finest: The two countries enjoy a long history of interaction regardless of Saudi Arabia’s human rights record.

US President Donald Trump talks to reporters about the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey during a bill signing ceremony at the White House in Washington, US, on October 23, 2018. Credit: REUTERS/Leah Millis

If this shows anything, it is that US foreign policy is interest-driven.

The consecutive US administrations maintained robust relations with autocrats like Mohamed Bin Salman for geo-strategic reasons.

Giving paramilitary training to foreign forces with little oversight was a big mistake made by the US, critics say.

Despite his criticism toward Mohamed Bin Salman, President Joe Biden, like his predecessors, is grappling with the reality that Riyadh is needed to achieve US goals in the Middle East region.

American realpolitik’

Pragmatically speaking, Biden is aware of the fact that Saudi Arabia acts as a buffer against the so-called Iranian threat.

This approach was manifested in his reluctance to sanction the Saudi government. Relying on cost-benefit calculations, President Biden realized that punishing Mohamed Bin Salman risks the military cooperation between the two countries.

Though President Biden halted US support to the Saudi coalition in Yemen, he insisted that KSA remains a key ally to Washington.

Jerrefy fields, Associate Professor of the Practice of International Relations, USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, said: “The Khashoggi affair highlights a persistent oddity in American foreign policy, one I observed in many years working at the State Department and Department of Defense: selective morality in dealing with repressive regimes.”

Fields added that this kind of foreign policy, which relies on geostrategic calculations rather than ideological or moral concerns – is called “realpolitik.”

The US maintains close ties to numerous regimes whose values and policies conflict with America’s constitutional guarantees of democracy, freedom of speech, the right to due process, and many others,” Fields said.

Ironically, the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi works in the best interest of Washington. Now more than ever, the US can pressure Saudi Arabia to fulfill US demands, especially when it comes to the Iranian file.

It is highly agreed upon that one of the reasons why Mohamed Bin Salman is mending relations with Tehran, is because he is pressured by President Biden to do so.

Frankly, Saudi Arabia and Iran will never be friends in the real sense. But, Iran is in serious need of sanctions relief. Saudi Arabia, on the other side, wants to remove the noose placed on its neck by the US.

Erdogan’s advisor said: The Biden administration uses Khashoggi’s case as a card against KSA. He added that it’s all about geo-strategic interests.

Even when the US administration released an intelligence report confirming Bin Salman’s involvement in Khashoggi’s killing, it was not driven by moral concerns.

Oil and business: According to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting countries (OPEC), Saudi Arabia is the largest oil exporter. Hence, if the US sanctions the Crown Prince, Saudi Arabia will cut off the oil supply, pushing up global oil prices.

Saudi Arabia has become a major economic and political force. Source: GETTY IMAGES

The soaring dependency of the west on imported oil makes the US more vulnerable to the Gulf countries, especially KSA.

During the 1973 war between Egypt and Israel, the Gulf countries cut oil supply, pressuring the US to end its unconditional support to Israel.

It was an important lesson for the US that it should not mess up with the gulf.

In an editorial published last year, the general manager of Saudi-owned Al Arabiya TV, Turki Aldakhil, said that imposing sanctions on the kingdom would result in an “economic disaster that would rock the entire world”.

“If the price of oil reaching $80 (£61) angered President Trump, no one should rule out the price jumping to $100 (£76), or $200 (£152), or even double that figure,” Aldakhil added.

Besides oil supply, the US needs the Saudi Market. US goods and services trade with Saudi Arabia totaled $46bn in 2017, with the US enjoying a trade surplus of $5bn. The US commerce department estimated that the bilateral trade supported an estimated 165,000 jobs in the US in 2015, according to BBC.

Based on the above findings, we can’t expect any radical change in US foreign policy towards Saudi Arabia. Khashoggi’s case gives leverage to the US. Now more than ever, the US will have the upper hand, exploiting human rights for political reasons.

To what end the US is imposing economic pressure on Iran, and in the process letting Saudi Arabia get away with murder, is not obvious,” Mark Fitzpatrick writes.

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