On Thursday, December 13th the United States surprisingly voted to withdraw US military support from Saudi Arabia in their ongoing conflict against the people on Yemen. The S.J.Res.54 — 115th Congress reads:
This joint resolution directs the President to remove U.S. Armed Forces from hostilities in or affecting Yemen within 30 days unless Congress authorizes a later withdrawal date, issues a declaration of war, or specifically authorizes the use of the Armed Forces. Prohibited activities include providing in-flight fueling for non-U.S. aircraft conducting missions as part of the conflict in Yemen. This joint resolution shall not affect any military operations directed at Al Qaeda.
The President must submit to Congress, within 90 days, reports assessing the risks that would be posed: (1) if the United States were to cease supporting operations with respect to the conflict in Yemen, and (2) if Saudi Arabia were to cease sharing Yemen-related intelligence with the United States.
The vote passed by a 56-41 margin. Every Democratic Senator, Angus King (I-ME), and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) voted in support of the resolution. Republicans Susan Collins (R-ME), Steve Daines (R-MT), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Mike Lee (R-UT), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Rand Paul (R-KY), and Todd Young (R-IN) also voted in favor.
Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Thom Tillis (R-NC), and Dean Heller (R-NV) did not vote, and the remaining members of the Republican bloc voted against the measure.
“We are actually in a historic moment here in the United States Senate, and I want to thank all of the Senators who in a very bi-partisan way have come together to say, ‘The United States will no longer participate in the Saudi led…intervention in Yemen,’ which has caused the worse humanitarian crisis on Earth with 85,000 children already starving too death,” said Senator Sanders on the floor of the Senate after the vote was tallied.
Saudi Arabia’s Official Response
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia rejects the position expressed recently by the United States Senate, which was based upon unsubstantiated claims and allegations, and contained blatant interferences in the Kingdom’s internal affairs, undermining the Kingdom’s regional and international role.
While the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia reaffirms its commitment to continue to further develop its relations with the United States of America, the Kingdom also expresses its concern regarding the positions that were expressed by members of an esteemed legislative body of an allied and friendly government, a government that the Kingdom, under the leadership of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and the Crown Prince, holds at the highest regard, and with whom the Kingdom maintains deep strategic, political, economic, and security ties that were built over several decades to serve the interests of both countries and peoples.
The official response from the Saudi government came on Monday and continues, “The Kingdom categorically rejects any interference in its internal affairs, any and all accusations, in any manner, that disrespect its leadership, represented by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosque and the Crown Prince, and any attempts to undermine its sovereignty or diminish its stature.”
The official release went on to directly address the brutal assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi which the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has told numerous lies to cover its involvement, “The Kingdom has previously asserted that the murder of Saudi citizen Jamal Khashoggi is a deplorable crime that does not reflect the Kingdom’s policy nor its institutions. Accordingly, the Kingdom reaffirms its rejection of any attempts to take the case out of the path of justice in the Kingdom.”
“The Kingdom is keen on preserving its relations with the United States of America, and will continue to work towards improving these ties in all areas,” the statement continued before concluding, “The Kingdom appreciates the prudent position taken by the United States Government and its institutions regarding the recent developments, as it realizes that this position by the US Senate sends the wrong messages to all those who want to cause a rift in Saudi-US relationship. The Kingdom hopes that it is not drawn into domestic political debates in the United States of America, to avoid any ramifications on the ties between the two countries that could have significant negative impacts on this important strategic relationship.”
Behind The Statement
The Saudi royal family recently launched public relations efforts in an attempt to sweep away their long list of crimes against humanity. One of the largest efforts is striking a large deal with World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) to host shows in the country in which the commentary contains a high level of pro-Saudi propaganda.
However, international pressure has been mounting since the murder of Jamal Khashoggi at the hands of Saudi officials inside of the Saudi consulate in Turkey.
The official response is an attempt for Saudi Arabia to show strength when they are currently undergoing severe ridicule from the international community. If the United States Congress now refuses to turn a blind eye to their actions, the royal family could be in a position to lose its grip on the Saudi citizens.