17 Saudi officials just got slapped with U.S. sanctions (i.e. penalties). The sanctions are in response to the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the Washington Post journalist and critic of the Saudi royal family who disappeared on Oct. 2 in the Saudi consulate in Turkey. Saudi officials at first said Khashoggi died in a fist fight in the consulate; they later admitted that Khashoggi's death was planned (hi, that’s murder) but swore the royal family wasn’t in on it.
So, what do these 17 officials have to do with it?
Fifteen of them are people Turkey ID’d as being a part of the “kill team." The other two are people close to the royal family who were singled out as being involved: Saud al-Qahtani, a former top aide to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), and Saudi Consul General Mohammed Alotaibi. The sanctions will freeze each individual’s assets in the U.S. and bar them from accessing American banks.
So, this is good.
Well, it’s something. While Turkey thinks there’s no way the operation went down without MBS knowing, U.S. President Trump was careful not to accuse the Crown Prince. Why? Some think because Saudi Arabia pumps a lot of money into the American economy. So, sanctioning anyone but the Saudi royal family is a safe way to bring justice to the perpetrators without endangering a relationship with the Saudis.
Canada appears poised to issue sanctions against Saudi officials
Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said her government“welcomes” new U.S. sanctions against 17 Saudis linked to Jamal Khashoggi’s killing and indicated Canada is “actively considering” following suit with its own measures. That came as Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor said he would seek the death penalty for five people said to be involved in the murder and dismemberment of the dissident journalist. Washington’s sanctions are likely to include a ban on travel to the U.S. and a freeze on financial assets there. Canadian penalties would probably be similar.
Here’s the view from Campbell Clark: “Targeting those 17 Saudis for sanctions still amounts to accepting the idea that these were rogue agents. Until Western governments start to zoom in on the man with iron-clad power over Saudi Arabia and its security services – Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, widely known as MBS – we’re still being asked to believe fiction.”
Canada is trying to find a way to end arms shipments to Saudi Arabia
Justin Trudeau has offered the clearest signal yet that his government is serious about terminating an armoured-vehicle contract valued as high as $15-billion. “We are engaged with the export permits to try and see if there is a way of no longer exporting these vehicles to Saudi Arabia,” he told CTV’s Question Period.
It’s still unclear what solution Trudeau has in mind, whether a timeline is under discussion, or if action would involve suspending deliveries or an outright cancellation of the deal. Still, experts see it as a significant development as Canada and other Western allies face increasing pressure to respond to Saudi Arabia’s role in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, along with the war in Yemen.