May 20, 2019

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Even With Stigma of Khashoggi Killing, Crown Prince Is Seen as Retaining Power

Even With Stigma of Khashoggi Killing, Crown Prince Is Seen as Retaining Power
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“If he’s damaged, that is because institutions and governments abroad no longer want to deal with him,” said another former Western diplomat with experience in the kingdom.

But the United States and other Western governments have such extensive ties to Saudi Arabia that they are unlikely to walk away, the diplomat said, arguing that the kidnapping of the Lebanese prime minister and the killing of Mr. Khashoggi were still not enough to make the crown prince a pariah.

Andrew Miller, deputy director for policy at the Project on Middle Eastern Democracy and a former State Department official with experience in the region, argued that the lingering stain on the crown prince is most likely to hamper him as an advocate with Western governments, where he has mainly argued for a hard-line against Iran.

“I think this makes it much for difficult for him to sustain his singular focus on Iran because the actions he is condemning there, he himself is perpetrating,” Mr. Miller argued.

Nevertheless, after a month of escalating criticism over the killing, a handful of American voices have recently begun extolling the importance of the Saudi-American alliance, in a possible sign of stabilization in the prince’s standing in Washington. “There is no change in any military relationship we have with Saudi Arabia,” Gen. Joseph Votel, the top United States commander in the Middle East, told the military publication Defense One this week, calling the partnership “strong, deep” and “beneficial.”

Major figures in finance also signaled this week that they intend to look past the killing because of the kingdom’s enormous oil wealth. “I understand the emotion around the story,” John Flint, chief executive of the banking giant HSBC, told Reuters, “but it is very difficult to think about disengaging from Saudi Arabia given its importance to global energy markets.”

Jamie Dimon, chief executive of JP Morgan Chase, said he had accomplished “nothing” by dropping out of the prince’s investment conference and his bank also expected to continue to pursue business with the kingdom. “Being engaged is not a bad thing, it does not mean you condone everything,” Mr. Dimon said at a conference organized by the publication Axios.

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