Turkey seeks arrest of two Saudi crown prince allies over Khashoggi murder

Jamal Khashoggi and Sean Penn

Turkey has been seeking to extradite 18 suspects, including 15 members of the alleged assassination squad.

The move comes a day after senior USA senators said that they were more certain than ever that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman was responsible for the killing, citing a Central Intelligence Agency briefing.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said the order for Khashoggi's killing came from the highest level of the Saudi government but probably not King Salman, putting the spotlight instead on Salman's heir and de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed. Supporters of the resolution, like Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told reporters after the behind-closed-doors briefing. Graham asserts pretty blatantly that Trump himself is tied up in the killing to some extent.

Roy Blunt is annoyed with his fellow Republicans, after several walked out of a classified briefing on Tuesday and blasted the Trump administration for willfully ignoring evidence linking Saudi Arabia's crown prince to the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

"The current construct is not sustainable", Graham added.

The South Carolina Republican described the Saudi royal as "a wrecking ball", "crazy" and "dangerous".

Republican Sen. Richard Shelby said he wouldn't rule out supporting the resolution this time when it comes up for a full vote.

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He was referring to a bone saw that Turkish officials have said was used to dismember Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.

Khalid bin Salman, the younger brother of Saudi Arabia's crown prince, has returned to the United States, where he intends to continue in his role as the Gulf kingdom's ambassador in Washington, NBC News reported on Wednesday. The resolution also calls on Riyadh to negotiate with representatives of the Houthi movement in Yemen in an effort to end that country's bloody civil war and subsequent humanitarian crisis. Such a move probably would be attached to a resolution that would restrict US support for the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen, which Corker said he suspects will pass the Senate. Secretary of Defense James Mattis was emphatic last week, telling reporters, "We have no smoking gun that the Crown Prince was involved".

US Senator Bob Corker, the current head of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, also said he is certain that MBS ordered Khashoggi's murder.

Although her office does not have the legal authority to initiate a criminal investigation, she said it would be a welcome step to determine "what really happened and who are the ones responsible for that very bad killing". "Maybe he did and maybe he didn't!".

However, both the executive and legislative branches remain united in their determination to preserve the core of the US-Saudi alliance, behind which are billions of dollars in military purchases by the Saudis and extensive oil imports by the US, along with an invaluable US political ally in the region. Graham is quick to defend Pompeo and Mattis, calling them "good soldiers" in his statement, but he throws Trump under the bus. "It doesn't matter if journalists have been killed in other countries".

The Saudi embassy in Washington confirmed that Khalid had returned to the US, NBC said, while a Saudi official said he was unable to attend the funeral because of a plane delay. After initially denying the murder, Riyadh has acknowledged that Khashoggi was killed inside the consulate but blamed his death on a "rogue" operation.

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