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Iran Press TV

US lawmakers revive push for sanctions against Saudi over Yemen war, Khashoggi

Iran Press TV

Fri Feb 8, 2019 03:23AM

A group of US lawmakers have revived a push to punish Saudi Arabia for launching war on Yemen and for the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The bipartisan group of Republican and Democratic senators introduced legislation on Thursday to bar some arms sales against Riyadh and impose sanctions on those responsible for Khashoggi's murder.

The bill aims to cut off weapons sales to Saudi Arabia including tanks, long-range fighter jets and ordnance for automatic weapons.

The bill would also require sanctions against anyone involved in Khashoggi's murder while calling for State Department reports on human rights violations in the kingdom as well as the war on Yemen.

Use 'bullet' on Khashoggi

A year before Khashoggi was killed and his body dismembered by a hit squad inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018, Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told an aide that he would use "a bullet" on the journalist if he did not return home and end his criticism of the government, according to The New York Times.

The comments were made well before Khashoggi's murder, the Times said, citing unnamed US intelligence sources.

Riyadh, which initially denied knowledge of Khashoggi's fate before admitting to his murder, continues to deny that MBS was involved in the brutal murder. However, US intelligence agencies believe the crown prince ordered the operation to kill the Washington Post columnist who was once a royal insider.

US President Donald Trump has said that despite the news of Khashoggi's murder, he still supports MBS and wants his arms deals with Riyadh to remain in place.

"Seeing as the Trump administration has no intention of insisting on full accountability for Mr. Khashoggi's murderers, it is time for Congress to step in and impose real consequences to fundamentally re-examine our relationship with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and with the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen," said Robert Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The Senate already voted in December to end support for the bloody Saudi-led war on Yemen.

The move is likely to pass the new Democratic-led House of Representatives after a hearing on legislation Wednesday, although Trump could exercise his veto.

"While Saudi Arabia is a strategic ally, the behavior of the crown prince - in multiple ways - has shown disrespect for the relationship and made him, in my view, beyond toxic," Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said.

"It is not in our national security interests to look the other way when it comes to the brutal murder of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi," he insisted.

Meanwhile, millions of Yemenis are on the brink of starvation in what the United Nations has described as the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

The Saudi-led coalition invaded Yemen in March 2015 in an attempt to reinstall Riyadh's ousted ally President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, who had resigned and fled the country amid unrest

The aggression started with numerous airstrikes but was later coupled with a naval and aerial blockade as well as the deployment of ground forces to the impoverished country.

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