Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman has gone `full gangster`, says US Senator

Jamal Khashoggi

"He is reckless. He's ruthless".

In December 2018, a group of senior senators in the USA attended a closed-door meeting with the Central Intelligence Agency after which they said that the briefing by director Gina Haspel had solidified their belief that the murder was ordered by the crown prince.

It called on Saudi authorities "to disclose all information available" about its own investigation while cooperating with separate United Nations inquiries into the death of Khashoggi, who was killed on October 2 in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

As the hearing continued, Republican Senator Marco Rubio said bin Salman had gone "full gangster", an assertion repeated by another Republican, Senator Ron Johnson. Republicans and Democrats - also slammed the kingdom for the way it handled the civil war in Yemen as well as the series of alleged human rights abuses.

While Abizaid on Wednesday called for accountability for the murder of Khashoggi - a USA resident at the time of his killing - and support for human rights, he repeatedly stressed the strategic importance of Washington-Riyadh ties.

"In the long run, we need a strong and mature partnership with Saudi Arabia", Abizaid told the committee, according to Reuters.

"It is in our interest to make sure that the relationship is sound", Abizaid said.

(Geneva) - A joint statement by 36 countries on March 7, 2019 calling on Saudi Arabia to improve its human rights record was a landmark step toward justice and accountability, Human Rights Watch said today.

If confirmed, Abizaid would be the first US ambassador to Saudi Arabia in over two years.

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The US-Saudi relationship has come under increased scrutiny in recent months. He also defended USA support for the war in Yemen, echoing the Trump administration's position that it "bolsters the self-defense capabilities of our partners and reduces the risk of harm to civilians".

Timing of any Senate vote on the resolution is uncertain.

Trump has vowed to veto the legislation, which would require a two-thirds majority in the Senate to override. Many from both parties already had serious misgivings about USA support for the kingdom's ongoing war in Yemen, which has led to a devastating humanitarian crisis and tens of thousands of casualties.

"Doing so bolsters the self-defense capabilities of our partners and reduces the risk of harm to civilians", Abizaid said.

A confirmation hearing was also held on Wednesday for Matthew Tueller, the current United States ambassador to Yemen and Trump's nominee for ambassador to Iraq. The conflict, which has claimed thousands of civilian lives, caused a massive cholera outbreak and brought millions of people to the brink of starvation is apparently not enough of a human rights violation.

USA lawmakers zeroed in on Khashoggi's murder during the Senate hearings on Wednesday. Some blame him for Khashoggi's killing and other human rights abuses. In Saudi Arabia, 11 suspects have been indicted in the murder, and officials have rejected accusations that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the killing.

"Saudi Arabia's a strategic ally and the relationship is worth saving - but not at all costs", Graham said, adding that he could not support the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia any more.

Risch has held two classified briefings in the past two weeks for the panel to discuss Saudi Arabia, he said.

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