Washington: The outgoing United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said that Washington cannot give “a pass” to Saudi Arabia for the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
In an exclusive interview to The Atlantic on December 7, Haley told the magazine’s interviewer Uri Friedman: “The whole situation with Khashoggi is we can’t give them a pass. And the reason is you have Saudi government officials that did this in a Saudi consulate.”
Noting that Saudi Arabia is a “complete partner” of the US and has helped in fighting with Iran, Haley pointed out: “I think that the main thing is: No, we don’t condone this; no, we’re not going to continue to be your partners if you continue to use thuggish behaviour. But you know what? That country is our complete partner when it comes to fighting Iran, and our only real partner when it comes to fighting Iran, so it’s a balancing act, but you have to do both,” Haley reiterated.
When Freidman asked Haley if the US can speak out and at the same time maintain them as an ally, Haley’s response was: “We have to. And they don’t expect us to give them a pass, because that’s not who America is.”
“But if you also look, that’s why we sanctioned the dozen or so Saudis, that’s why we’re asking for accountability, that’s why we’re going to push back. We need to continue to do it until we get it,” she added.
Haley said that the perpetrators of the murder should be held accountable. She also reiterated that the US had sanctioned the perpetrators.
When asked to comment whether the US government should take more steps to hold the Saudi Crown prince accountable, Haley said: “I think all of that, the administration needs to decide. It’s his (US President Donald Trump) government. His government did this, and so he technically is responsible.”
In November, the US Department of State imposed global magnitsky sanctions on 17 Saudi Arabian individuals for their roles in the killing of the journalist.
Khashoggi, a Washington Post journalist, went missing on October 2 after stepping into Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul to collect documents which would allowed him to marry fiancee Hatice Cengiz. His fiancee, who was waiting outside the consulate, raised an alarm after Khashoggi failed to re-emerge from the Saudi consulate.
Saudi, a few weeks later, accepted the fact that the group of 15 Saudi agents were behind the murder Kashoggi, leading to an international furore and complicating the already delicate relations between Saudi, Turkey and the US.