US President Donald Trump has made his support of Saudi Arabia and the country’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman quite apparent, through his various statements since the heinous killing of Jamal Khashoggi came to light.
However, not everyone in the US agrees with the President and many from his own party are working to censure Saudi Arabia – over Khashoggi’s murder and the Yemen war.
The opposition to U.S.’s support to Saudi Arabia has grown in recent months and the US Senate voted 63-37 on Wednesday for a resolution, which, if passed, says the US Congress wants to end US military support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen's war. The vote comes from a house which is led by Donald Trump’s own party and holds a majority. The first round of voting now ensures that the resolution could come up for a procedural final vote within days after which the Senate would hold a hearing.
Independent Senator Bernie Sanders is sponsoring the bill. He said, "We have already seen 85,000 children starved to death, the UN tells us that millions of people are facing starvation, 10,000 new cholera cases are developing each week because there is no clean drinking water in the country...All of that was caused by the Saudi-led invasion of Yemen three years ago, led by a despotic, dishonest dictatorship," he added.
This growing swell of opposition to Saudi Arabia has members of the Trump Administration scrambling. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a statement, before the Senate vote said, “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 U.S. and its allies."
But the increasing support for the resolution came after many senators said they were left unsatisfied by the Trump Administration’s lack of clarity on the sequence of events that led to Jamal Khashoggi’s murder. The briefing held for senators over Jamal Khashoggi's killing was held by Mike Pompeo and US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis and did not see CIA Director Gina Haspel make an appearance. Reports in recent week have said the CIA has proof the Saudi Crown Prince ordered the journalist’s murder but Donald Trump has refuted this.
Republican Senator Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate's Committee on Foreign Relations also voiced his support for the resolution, saying he prefers the executive branch send a message, but that so far it has failed to do so. "We have watched innocent people being killed and we have seen people die of diseases they should not be dying of," Corker said. "We also have a crown prince that is out of control; a blockade of Qatar, the arrest of a Prime Minister of Lebanon, the killing of a journalist," he added.
The senators are also threatening to invoke the War Powers Act 1973, which states that if US troops are involved in “hostilities” abroad “without a declaration of war or specific statutory authorization, such forces shall be removed by the President if the Congress so directs by concurrent resolution.”
The US President has threatened to veto the resolution if it is passed but the vote would establish that a majority of those representing the people of the U.S. are acting to censure Saudi Arabia.