Around the world on 28 February 2021
Washington blames MbS for Khashoggi murder: Saudi Arabia’s crown prince and de factor ruler Mohammed bin Salman was personally involved in the brutal murder of journalist and Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul in 2018, according to an intelligence report (pdf) declassified by the Biden administration on Friday. US intelligence bases its claim on MbS’ complete control over Saudi security forces at the time, “making it highly unlikely that Saudi officials would have carried out an operation of this nature without the crown prince’s authorization.”
… But it didn’t really make much of a difference: The report didn’t include any new information or evidence, making its release a reason for MbS’ supporters to celebrate, rather than fret, Bloomberg notes. And while the US Treasury has imposed sanctions on the Saudi Rapid Intervention Force and an ex-Saudi intelligence official for their role in the killing but has not moved to punish the crown prince himself.
Also from the White House: US President Joe Biden checked his first military operation as commander-in-chief off his to-do list, ordering an airstrike against pro-Iran militias in Syria in response to rockets fired at US targets in Iraq. Biden defended the airstrikes, which were ordered without congressional approval, as part of his constitutional duty “to protect US citizens both at home and abroad.”
Also worth knowing this morning: Qatar is committing USD 60 mn to establish a natgas pipeline between Israel and Gaza in a bid to end the energy crisis in the Palestinian territory, Doha’s foreign ministry said in a statement. The project, slated for completion in 2023, will transport natgas coming from US energy company Chevron’s Leviathan field to Israel to supply the Gaza Strip’s sole power station, Reuters reported.
IN DIPLOMACY: Elsewedy Electric looks to be deepening its commercial links in Iraq after signing an MoU with the Iraqi National Investment Commission (NIC) on Thursday to establish a 5 mn sqm industrial zone in Baghdad, the NIC said in a statement. The company will also handle the management and marketing of different industries at the zone. The agreement comes as Egypt is working with Iraq on everything from oil and water resources to construction, transportation, environmental protection, as well an exchange of expertise in the stock market and judiciary.