13, December 2018
Several senior US senators in Congress have warned Saudi Arabia that Riyadh must change its leadership if itwants to maintain its close ties with Washington, saying Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has become “so toxic.”
In some of their strongest comments to date, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and Senator Bob Menendez signaled Wednesday they would like to see Saudi Arabia remove from power bin Salman, the country’s de facto ruler.
Sentiment voiced in both the Senate and House of Representatives this week signals a shift in congressional support for Saudi Arabia and bin Salman, also known as MbS.
“To our friends in Saudi Arabia, you are never going to have a relationship with the United States Senate unless things change. And it’s up to you to figure out what that change needs to be,” Graham told reporters at a press conference in Congress.
“From my point of view, the current construct is not working. There is a relationship between countries and individuals. The individual, the crown prince, is so toxic, so tainted, so flawed that I can’t ever see myself doing business in the future with Saudi Arabia unless there is a change there,” Graham said.
“The relationship with Saudi Arabia is not working for America,” he added. “It is more of a burden than an asset.”
The US Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved a resolution on Wednesday proposed by Menendez and Republican Senator Todd Young that would suspend weapons sales to Saudi Arabia and impose sanctions on people blocking humanitarian access in Yemen.
Menendez, who was joined at the press conference on Capitol Hill by Graham, said the resolution will pass when it comes to a full vote in the Senate and that it is meant to hold Saudi leaders accountable for human rights abuses.
“This sends a global message that just because you’re an ally of the United States, you can’t kill with impunity,” Menendez said.
The US Senate voted on Wednesday to advance another resolution to end US military support for the Saudi-led military campaign against Yemen, setting the stage for debate and a later vote in the upper chamber.
The United State Senate has voted to end President Donald Trump’s support for the Saudi war on Yemen. The nearly unprecedented break the 11 Republicans made from US President Donald Trump was largely symbolic because the House of Representatives is not expected to take the matter up this year.
Trump has threatened a veto the measure if it passes both chambers. The Saudi war against Yemen has killed over 15, 000 people in the impoverished nation and has been described by the United Nations as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
During an interview with Reuterson Tuesday, Trump said he hoped senators would not propose stopping arms salesto the Saudis. Trump also said he stood by Saudi Arabia’s crown prince despitea CIA assessment that he ordered the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, inIstanbul, Turkey, on October 2. Trump has come under fierce criticism fromfellow Republicans in the Senate over the issue.