Bernie Sanders says Saudi Arabia does not ‘have a blank check to continue violating human rights’
The U.S. should urgently redefine its relationship with Saudi Arabia and halt support for the Kingdom in its war with Yemen, a leading senator said, citing the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
In an op-ed published Wednesday in The New York Times, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders said the Kingdom needs to be shown it does not “have a blank check to continue violating human rights.
“One place we can start is by ending United States support for the war in Yemen,” he said.
“Not only has this war created a humanitarian disaster in one of the world’s poorest countries, but also American involvement in this war has not been authorized by Congress and is therefore unconstitutional.”
In 2015, Saudi Arabia and its Sunni-Arab allies launched a massive air campaign aimed at rolling back Houthi gains in Yemen.
The violence has devastated Yemen’s public infrastructure, including water and sanitation systems, prompting the UN to describe the situation as one of “the worst humanitarian disasters of modern times”.
“The United States is deeply engaged in this war. We are providing bombs the Saudi-led coalition is using, we are refueling their planes before they drop those bombs, and we are assisting with intelligence,” Sanders wrote.
He said in many cases, civilians were targeted by bombs.
“In one of the more horrible recent instances, an American-made bomb obliterated a school bus full of young boys, killing dozens and wounding many more,” he wrote. “A CNN report found evidence that American weapons have been used in a string of such deadly attacks on civilians since the war began.”
Stating the U.S. did not want to harm its arms sales with Saudi Arabia, he said U.S. President Donald Trump replied to a question about Khashoggi killing saying “the Saudis are spending “$110 billion” on military equipment.
Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist, was last seen Oct. 2 when he entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. After days of denying knowledge of his whereabouts, Saudi officials last week admitted that Khashoggi was killed in a “brawl” at the consulate.
Sanders said earlier this year, he urged Congress to end U.S. support in the Kingdom’s was in Yemen.
“In February, along with two of my colleagues, Mike Lee, Republican of Utah, and Chris Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut, I introduced Senate Joint Resolution 54, calling on the president to withdraw from the Saudi-led war in Yemen,” he said, adding the Senate delayed the consideration of the resolution with a 55 to 44 vote.
“Since then, this crisis has only worsened and our complicity become even greater,” he added.
He also said he intended to bring the resolution back with more co-sponsors. “The brutal murder of Mr. Khashoggi demands that we make clear that United States support for Saudi Arabia is not unconditional.”
Sanders shared hope for Congress to take its duty “seriously” and end American support for the “carnage” in Yemen, sending a message that “human lives are worth more than profits for arms manufacturers”. –