The Senate Votes To End The Trump Admin’s Subservience To Saudi Arabia
In a rare bipartisan vote, the Senate clearly rebuked the Trump administration’s deference to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Updated December 13, 2018, from a November 28 article: The Senate has approved resolutions to recommend the U.S. end their assistance to Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen and blamed Mohammed bin Salman for Jamal Khashoggi’s murder.
A few weeks ago, the US Senate initiated a bill that may force the withdrawal of US support of the Saudi-led war in Yemen. The bill, co-sponsored by Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Chris Murphy (D-CT), and Mike Lee (R-UT), was advanced for debate on the Senate floor by a vote of 63-37. This was the first step towards a full resolution, one which would require a similar measure in the House, a distant prospect with the current Congress, but a likely one when Democrats take over in January. The White House has already signaled it would veto any resolution, however, which would then require a two-thirds majority to override the veto.
The move came days after the heads of five international aid agencies called on the United States to stop its military and financial support of the Saudi-backed coalition, saying it has only exacerbated the conflict that has led to the world’s worst famine in recent memory. In what may be the first time aid agencies place blame on the US government for a humanitarian crisis, the agencies castigated the Trump administration’s policies in Yemen, saying “By providing such extensive military and diplomatic support for one side of the conflict, the United States is deepening and prolonging a crisis that has immediate and severe consequences for Yemen, and civilians are paying the price.”
The US has been providing support to Saudi forces in their fight against Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen since the outset of the war in 2014 and has conducted strikes against Al-Qaeda targets before that. The Trump administration has recently called for a ceasefire and negotiations to end the conflict and even moved to end refueling of Saudi aircraft. However, it is not clear that the administration takes its role in the conflict seriously, or that it has any interest in true peace talks. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a Trump-like tweet in which he praised Saudi Arabia and placed all the blame on Iran.
Iran’s regime has no interest in easing Yemeni suffering; the mullahs don’t even care for ordinary Iranians. Saudi Arabia has invested billions to relieve suffering in #Yemen. Iran has invested zero.
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) November 28, 2018
The bill will also probably not do much to end the Trump administration’s steadfast protection of Saudi Arabia and its crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, over the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. In a largely shambolic hearing in the Senate in November, with cabinet members roundly denying any link between Mr. Khashoggi’s death and MBS. The stonewalling reached absurd levels, with national security advisor John Bolton claiming there was no need to listen to a recording of Mr. Khashoggi’s murder because he didn’t speak Arabic. Notably missing from the hearings was CIA director Gina Haspel, who was barred by President Trump from testifying, yet is the only member of the administration who has purportedly listened to the tape. This has angered the Senate on both sides of the aisle. Senator Lindsey Graham, ever the Trump lackey, even said he would be withholding his vote from other important bills until the CIA briefs the Senate.
Haspel has since briefed a select group of Senators, and they came out of the briefing with a strong message.
Breaking: GOP Sen @LindseyGrahamSC following CIA briefing on Khashoggi murder: “There’s not a smoking gun, there’s a smoking saw…I left the briefing with high confidence that my initial confidence is correct.”
— Jim Sciutto (@jimsciutto) December 4, 2018
Mattis and Pompeo have some explaining to do to the new Dem House. https://t.co/ioT86T5DEQ
— Adam (@aalali44) December 4, 2018
The Senate has since sent a powerful message to the Trump administration.
NEWS: The U.S. Senate, 56-41, voted to pass the War Powers Resolution that would halt U.S. military assistance to Saudi Arabia in Yemen.
House is not expected to take it up this Congress, but a significant message to Saudi – and the Admin which opposed the resolution
— Phil Mattingly (@Phil_Mattingly) December 13, 2018
BREAKING: US Senate passes a resolution saying Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is responsible for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a direct rebuke to the crown prince.
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) December 13, 2018
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