On November 28th, the US Senate advanced a bill that could end US military involvement in the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen.
The Senate voted 63-37 to advance the resolution, which if actually passes would completely end US military support of the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.
This advancement allows for a possible final vote on the bill in the following days. The Trump adminsitration has threatened that the President will veto the resolution if it passes Congress.
Earlier in the same day, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told the Senate in a closed-door briefing that weakening US-Saudi ties over the killing of Khashoggi would be a mistake.
“The October murder of Saudi national Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey has heightened the Capitol Hill caterwauling and media pile-on. But degrading US-Saudi ties would be a grave mistake for the national security of the US and its allies,” Pompeo wrote in a blog post shortly before the briefing.
During the briefing, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said there was “no direct reporting” connecting Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the murder of the US resident journalist, and Defense Secretary James Mattis said there was “no smoking gun” making the connection.
Several senators, speaking to reporters after the briefing, said they were not satisfied with the administration’s stance on its support for Saudi Arabia in the war on Yemen, and called for Prince Mohammed to be held accountable for Khashoggi’s death.
“We had a briefing today that was very unsatisfactory,” Senator Bob Corker, the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in floor remarks. “As to whether the crown prince was involved in this killing, I believe that he was. I believe that he ordered it. I do not have a smoking gun, but what I do know is that he was in charge of this agency that carried out the killing.”
“The Saudis have gone off the rails. They’ve killed more civilians this year than any year prior in the Yemen war,” Democratic Senator Chris Murphy said. “They obviously made a giant strategic error in abducting and murdering Jamal Khashoggi. So, a lot has changed in the last few months to get us to this point.”
“The bombing of children in a school bus and other civilian targets, is not something I want America’s fingerprints on,” Senator Bob Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat and senior foreign policy leader, said. “I call on the administration again to develop a cogent strategy and work with other nations” to bring an end to the civil war in Yemen
Following the mid-term elections in which Democrats had a sweeping victory, the Senate has now enough power to reassert congressional authority over US military action in the region.
“We are assisting them in targeting the areas in Yemen where they’re going to drop their bombs,” said Senator Richard Durbin, the No 2 Democrat leader in the Senate. “The United States has not been on the sidelines. We’ve been involved. Our military, the best in the world has been involved in helping the Saudis with this invasion of Yemen. They’ve discontinued the fueling mission, but other things continue. And the question we have to ask ourselves now is, why are we there?”
This all follows Donald Trump saying that good US-Saudi relations are important for Israel.
As well as the rumors that the US would block the UNSC ceasefire draft resolution, which was already quite watered down by the UK. The resolution praises Saudi conduct in the intervention and shifts the entire blame on the Houthi.
It is quite apparent that no matter the conduct, the Trump administration will continue its support of the Kingdom, Mohammed bin Salman, as well as of Israel.
However, in a surprising turn of events, Congressmen and Congresswomen appear to have drawn the line on Saudi Arabia’s questionable conduct and are attempting to undertake action.