Two U.S. Senate resolutions last week have resulted in a ball of confusion, one that tries to distance the U.S, from a murderous Saudi prince while at the same time demanding closer relations with the government he heads.
By Daniel Lazare
Special to Consortium News
Does the Senate want Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman to own up to the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi? Is it really seeking an end to Saudi Arabia’s war of aggression against Yemen? The answer to both questions is: kind of, sort of, not really.
That’s the takeaway from a couple of resolutions the chamber approved amid great fanfare last week. The first, sponsored by Senator Bernie Sanders, calls on Trump “to remove United States Armed Forces from hostilities in or affecting the Republic of Yemen” by, among other things, putting an end to in-flight refueling of Saudi and the United Arab Emirate war planes. The resolution, which passed 56 to 41, was a small step toward ending a war of aggression that has claimed as many as 80,000 lives – although it would have been stronger and less self-serving if it had also called for cutting off arms sales that have allowed US weapons manufacturers to reap vast profits off human misery.
But the second resolution, which passed on a unanimous voice vote, was a muddle that shows just how self-defeating US policy has become. Sponsored by Republican Senator Bob Corker, it began by holding the crown prince responsible for Khashoggi’s murder in an Istanbul consulate on Oct. 2, an act, it said, that has “undermined trust and confidence in the longstanding friendship between the United States and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”
This generated excited headlines to the effect that the U.S. might at last be breaking with MbS, as Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman is universally known. But news outlets failed to mention what the resolution said next. It declared, for instance, that the U.S.-Saudi relationship is “an essential element of regional security.” While saying nothing about arms shipments to Saudi allies, it condemned Iran for supplying rebel forces with “advanced lethal…