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Iran Press TV

Saudis rebuff US vote but face Canadian backlash

Iran Press TV

Mon Dec 17, 2018 08:26AM

Saudi Arabia has denounced a US Senate resolution to end Washington's military support for the kingdom, but faced a new backlash as Canada announced plans to cancel a giant 2014 weapons deal with Riyadh.

The US Senate unanimously voted last week to hold Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) accountable for the murder of journalist and critic Khashoggi and halt Washington's assistance to the Saudi war in Yemen.

"The kingdom condemns the latest position of the US Senate that was built on untrue allegations and affirms a total rejection of any interference in its internal affairs," Saudi Foreign Ministry said on Sunday.

Riyadh has been heartened by President Donald Trump's position that Washington will continue to remain a "steadfast partner" of the kingdom.

Trump and his senior administration officials have claimed that there is no "direct evidence" to link the Saudi leadership to the killing despite the CIA's conclusion that it was the Saudi crown prince who ordered Khashoggi's assassination.

Trump has admitted that MbS may have known about the killing, but stressed that he has no intention of cancelling $110 billion in military contracts with Riyadh.

"And implicit in Trump's justifications for not holding the Saudi royals accountable is the idea that it's simply not worth the sacrifice – that Saudi Arabia has too much leverage through its arms deals and control of the world oil supply," The Washington Post wrote.

The Senate resolution also calls the war in Yemen a "humanitarian crisis" and requires that the president withdraw any troops in or "affecting" Yemen within 30 days "unless they are fighting al-Qaeda."

It is unclear whether the House will consider the measure. The lower chamber would have to approve the resolution before it can be sent to the White House for Trump's signature.

Trump has vowed to veto it. If vetoed, the bill would go back to the Senate, where only a two-thirds vote can override a presidential veto.

On Sunday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who has had rocky relations with Trump, said he was looking into ways to cancel the largest arms deal in Canadian history worth US$11.5 billion.

"We inherited actually a (Can)$15 billion contract signed by (former prime minister) Stephen Harper to export light-armored vehicles to Saudi Arabia," he said.

"We are engaged with the export permits to try and see if there is a way of no longer exporting these vehicles to Saudi Arabia," he added.

Trudeau had earlier said that it would be "extremely difficult" to withdraw from the contract, signed by the previous conservative administration, "without Canadians paying exorbitant penalties."

In an interview with CBC Radio in October, Trudeau said the penalty for breaking the contract could exceed Can$1 billion.

Trudeau has been criticized by political opponents and Human Rights activists for failing to cancel the contract.

As evidence emerged of direct Saudi involvement in Khashoggi's killing, Canada in late November imposed sanctions against 17 Saudi nationals linked to the "abhorrent and extrajudicial" murder.

Last month, Denmark stopped selling weapons to Riyadh, joining Germany and Norway to suspend arms exports to Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia launched its devastating military campaign against Yemen in March 2015, with the aim of bringing the government of former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi back to power and crushing Houthis.

According to a new report by the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), a nonprofit conflict-research organization, the Saudi war has so far claimed the lives of around 56,000 Yemenis.

The war has also taken a heavy toll on the country's infrastructure, destroying hospitals, schools, and factories. The UN has said a record 22.2 million Yemenis are in dire need of food, including 8.4 million threatened by severe hunger.

Ken Stone of Hamilton Coalition to Stop the War told Press TV that Washington wants an end to the Saudi aggression on Yemen, which he described as "a war by the US empire" and "a war for hegemony in the Middle East."

"The indication that there would be an end to the fighting was made at the beginning of November, when the US secretary of state and the secretary of defense both told Saudi Arabia that they wanted the fighting to end in a month," Stone said.

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