Despite Khashoggi Killing, Saudi Crown Prince Seen Retaining Power

DC policy meetings treat Khashoggi as a non-issue

Journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered by the Saudi government, and there appears to be near-universal recognition that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was involved in the decision-making process. It is also increasingly apparent that this is not a deal-breaker for most.

A month after Khashoggi’s murder, the crown prince appears to be entirely secure in his power. Early suggestions he may get some sort of rebuke, or even have his powers pared back slightly, just never panned out. Indeed, the only official  Saudi action on the killing was to establish a new committee to oversee intelligence reform, and the crown prince has been put in charge of that committee.

This inaction is happening just in time for the annual National Council on US-Arab Relations conference, a series of DC policy meetings among US and Middle Eastern officials. This too is giving all the impression that Khashoggi is all but forgotten, and no one expects any long-term changes related to his murder.

As for any direct US sanction of the Saudis over the killing of a US permanent resident, that’s still going to take awhile. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Thursday it will be a “handful more weeks” before the US does anything. Pompeo insisted the US doesn’t “condone” Khashoggi’s killing, but that the top priority is to make sure the US-Saudi relationship remains intact.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of