U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio had a dire warning regarding the recent actions of Saudi Arabia, arguing Saudi leadership could “pull us into a war” if not reprimanded for the killing of a Saudi journalist.
The White House has signaled a willingness to believe the word of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that he had no prior knowledge of the October killing.
Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, a native of Saudi Arabia who was living in the U.S. with a green card, was killed while visiting the Saudi consulate in Turkey.
The reluctance of President Donald Trump and his administration to put the blame squarely on bin Salman conflicts with the CIA’s assessment with high confidence that Khashoggi’s killing was ordered by the Crown Prince.
Rubio said he believes the White House is taking its current position to preserve the strategic alliance between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia.
“But all alliances have buffers,” Rubio said to John Berman on CNN’s New Day. “All alliances have limits.
“And the Crown Prince will continue to test the limits of this alliance until those limits are clearly set.”
While Rubio said he’s hopeful those limits have been outlined privately by the U.S. to bin Salman, he argued there needs to be some public action taken as well.
“There are all sorts of things we can do to make clear that this can’t continue to happen. Otherwise, (bin Salman is) going to continue to get more reckless and continue to push more boundaries. He’s going to, frankly, pull us into a war one day with some recklessness.”
But Rubio argued even without getting into his knowledge of the intelligence surrounding the killing, it’s obvious bin Salman at least knew of the planned execution.
“Just from what we know about Saudi Arabia, what we know about the Crown Prince, and what we know about this murder leads you with no doubt that the Crown Prince, at a minimum, knew about it, and condoned it, and perhaps, at worst, was actually involved in directing it.”
“Whether or not we have a smoking gun, there is no way that 17 people that close to the Crown Prince go to Turkey and murder a guy at a consulate, and he not know about, and he not be okay with it, period.”
A group of Senators, including Rubio, have introduced a resolution stating that bin Salman was “complicit” in Khashoggi’s murder. And he says the U.S. should pressure the Saudis to release citizens being held as political prisoners.
Rubio, however, opposes using the War Powers Act to stop U.S. intervention in the war in Yemen as a way to punish the Saudis.
“It’s the wrong way to do the right thing,” he said of pulling support.