A package of US sanctions targeting Saudi officials over human rights abuses appears to have been stripped of several punitive measures, according to unnamed members of congress speaking to a US media outlet.
According to CNN, after pressure from Republican lawmakers, sanctions including visa restrictions and the limitation of arms sales were removed from a final bill targeting Riyadh.
Saudi Arabia has lost considerable support within the US after the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October 2018 and the ongoing war in Yemen, which has led to the death of upwards of 100,000 people.
The pulled sanctions would have punished those directly responsible for the killing of Khashoggi. US President Donald Trump had reportedly ordered Republican politicians to push for a softening of measures.
The measures that did go through included a requirement for the CIA to provide a list of people responsible for the murder of Khashoggi within 30 days of the bill being signed.
What happens after such a list is made available, however, is unclear as the Congressional bill does not specify what will happen to those named.
CIA officials have internally come to the conclusion that the killing of Khashoggi was ordered by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) but Trump has repeatedly gone against his intelligence officials, claiming they did not actually blame the royal.
Trump has also tried to mitigate the fallout of the killing by blocking Congress from limiting weapons sales to Riyadh. The US president believes any attempt to do so will reduce US competitiveness in the global arms industry.
The US State Department has issued its own sanctions under the Global Magnitsky Act, listing 17 people including MBS advisor, Saud al Qahtani, for their role in Khashoggi’s murder.
One of the leading critics of Saudi Arabia after the killing of Khashoggi was US Senator Lindsay Graham. Speaking at the Doha Forum on Sunday, the Trump ally said Riyadh had “violated” the rules of “civilised society”.