Monday 16 September 2019

Saudi Arabia rejects US Senate resolution over Khashoggi death

Symbolic: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi arrives for a briefing on the death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi on Capitol Hill. Photo: REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Symbolic: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi arrives for a briefing on the death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi on Capitol Hill. Photo: REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

Dean Grey in Washington

Saudi Arabia has rejected as "interference" a US Senate resolution to end American military support for a Riyadh-led war in Yemen, and another holding its crown prince responsible for the murder of critic Jamal Khashoggi.

"The kingdom condemns the latest position of the US Senate that was based on unsubstantiated allegations and rejects the blatant interference in its internal affairs," the foreign ministry said in a statement released by the official Saudi Press Agency.

Though largely symbolic, the US Senate vote last Thursday dealt a fresh warning to president Donald Trump, who has staunchly backed the Saudi regime despite global uproar over the Yemen conflict and the murder of 'Washington Post' journalist Mr Khashoggi.

On the Yemen measure, which more broadly attacks the president's prerogative to launch military action, 49 Democrats or their allies voted in favour, along with seven Republicans, while another three Republicans abstained.

The Senate also approved a resolution condemning Mr Khashoggi's murder and calling Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler, "responsible" for it.

The Saudi ministry said the kingdom would not tolerate any "disrespect" of its rulers.

"This position by the US Senate sends the wrong messages to all those who want to cause a rift in Saudi-US relationship," the ministry said.

"The kingdom hopes that it is not drawn into domestic political debates in the US to avoid any... significant negative impact on this important strategic relationship."

The resolution said US-Saudi ties were "important", but called on Riyadh to "moderate its increasingly erratic foreign policy".

The resolutions cannot be debated in the House of Representatives before January, and would likely be vetoed in any case by Mr Trump, but the Senate votes send a strong message to the White House over anger towards Riyadh.

Mr Khashoggi, a Saudi, was killed on October 2, shortly after entering the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul in what Riyadh called a "rogue" operation.

The murder has tarnished Riyadh's international reputation, and Western countries including the US, France and Canada, have placed sanctions on nearly 20 Saudi nationals.

UN chief Antonio Guterres called for a "credible" probe into the murder.

Anger at the human cost of the war in Yemen has also prompted a harder line in Congress about the US military's role in backing Saudi-led coalition strikes against Huthi rebels.

Irish Independent

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