Saudi Arabia CRISIS: Turkey demands Khashoggi suspects' extradition as new warrants issued

Senator Lindsey Graham after the CIA briefing

Senator Lindsey Graham after the CIA briefing Credit Reuters

The CIA director - who has reportedly heard an audio recording of the murder - did not attend a recent congressional briefing by cabinet members, dismaying lawmakers.

Prince Mohammed "is a wrecking ball", Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican from SC, told reporters after an hour-long briefing by the CIA Director, Gina Haspel on Tuesday.

The Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT) reported that the two officials were Saud al-Qahtani and General Ahmed al-Asiri who are said to be close to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The CIA had already concluded with high confidence that the prince was behind the murder, but senators said Haspel provided a much more fulsome briefing than the one they had gotten from Cabinet officials, including new evidence.

There are three different measures making their way through the Senate: a war powers resolution ending any USA involvement in the Yemen conflict, legislation imposing a broad clampdown on Saudi Arabia, including ending arms sales and levying new sanctions; and a nonbinding resolution targeting the crown prince.

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In a statement attempting to clarify his comments later in the day, Stewart said: "We can not brush aside the murder of any journalist, and I have always said that those who are responsible for the murder of Mr. Khashoggi should be held responsible".

The men were sacked after the kingdom admitted Mr Khashoggi, a staunch critic of the Saudi government, was killed at its consulate in Istanbul.

The Senate is gearing up for a potentially unwieldy debate over US policy regarding Yemen and Saudi Arabia, and a Tuesday briefing for key senators from the Central Intelligence Agency chief did nothing to thwart that.

The administration last week sent Mattis and Pompeo to the Capitol, but senators emerged angrier than before, in part because Haspel didn't participate.

Still, a bipartisan coalition of senators wants to do more, even though they concede that there is no time left in this calendar year to do it. Later Tuesday, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer issued a statement saying the briefing only "reinforced the need for a strong response to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi", and that Haspel "should brief the full Senate without delay".

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In recent months, Mattis - a former Marine four-star popular with lawmakers - has defended other politically controversial moves by the Trump administration, like troop deployments to the US border and plans to reorganize the military for a Space Force.

Graham also said he would offer a sense of the Senate measure that names the crown prince as responsible for the murder of Khashoggi and that he would not support further arm sales to the kingdom until all individuals complicit in the murder "have been brought to justice".

Republican Senator Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who is retiring this month, said he hoped to hold a hearing early next week on the broader legislation. It's not clear whether Haspel will be there, the aide said. "We are doing everything we can to go down every rabbit hole to find what's there and that's my responsibility because a significant amount of the USA intelligence apparatus, including a rather critical part of it, is under my cognizance".

Saudi Arabia had detained 21 people and says it is seeking the death penalty for five. The Saudi coalition faced criticism for indiscriminately bombing civilian targets and infrastructure, though the Trump administration argues the situation would be much worse without USA assistance. Reif will use the report to guide his decisions about the relationship between MIT and Saudi Arabia going forward. The assistance began under the Obama administration.

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