Senator Lindsey Graham called Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman “unstable and unreliable” and said he and other senators were discussing sanctions against the longtime U.S. ally in the wake of a Saudi columnist’s murder, Bloomberg reported.
An influential policy hawk in Congress who frequently advises President Donald Trump, Graham said he and other like-minded colleagues don’t yet have a plan of action, but lambasted the leadership of Saudi Arabia’s 33-year-old de facto ruler, widely known as MBS.
Prince Mohammed “has been unstable and unreliable and I don’t see the situation getting fixed as long as he’s around,” Graham said.
Asked if he was calling for a new crown prince to be named, Graham said it was up to Saudi Arabia to determine its leadership. “I am of the opinion that the current leadership, the MBS leadership, has been a disaster for the relationship and the region, and I will find it very difficult to do business as usual with somebody who’s been this unstable,” he said.
Graham, a top critic-turned-ally of Trump, has taken a much more strident tone against the prince than the U.S. president since Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last month. An authoritative Republican voice on relations with the Saudis, he’s previously said the royal is a “toxic” figure who “can never be a world leader on the world stage” but his latest comments go further.
The South Carolina Republican is among a number of U.S. lawmakers, from both Democratic and Republican parties, who have pushed for action against Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi and other concerns.
Khashoggi, a longtime insider who was critical of Prince Mohammed’s policies, was murdered during a visit to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. The crown prince and Saudi officials initially said they had no knowledge of Khashoggi’s whereabouts. But as international pressure mounted, the kingdom said he had died in an interrogation gone awry.