Saudi Arabia condemns US Senate ‘interference’
Saudi Arabia has denounced US Senate resolutions to end US military aid for a Riyadh-led war in Yemen and to blame the country’s crown prince for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
The Saudi foreign ministry described the move as “interference” based on “untrue allegations”.
Thursday’s US resolutions are largely symbolic and unlikely to become law.
But they sent a warning to President Donald Trump about US lawmakers’ anger towards Saudi policies.
What did Saudi Arabia say?
In a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency, the foreign ministry said: “The kingdom condemns the latest position of the US Senate.”
It said that such a position “was built on untrue allegations”. Saudi Arabia, it added, rejected “any interference in its internal affairs”.
“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 and reaffirms its rejection of any attempts to take the case out of the path of justice in the Kingdom.”
The US has so far not publicly responded to the Saudi statement.
What about the US Senate resolutions?
Thursday’s vote was the first time any chamber of the US Congress had voted to pull US forces from a military conflict under the 1973 War Powers Act.
Some of President Trump’s fellow Republicans defied him to pass the measure with Democrats by 56-41.
The non-binding resolution called upon Mr Trump to remove all American forces engaging in hostilities in Yemen, except for those combating Islamist extremists.
The US suspended refuelling Saudi war planes last month, and Thursday’s resolution – if it were ultimately passed into law – would prohibit that practice from resuming.
The Senate then unanimously passed a resolution blaming Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for Washington Post reporter Jamal Khashoggi’s murder on 2 October, and insisting that the kingdom hold accountable those responsible.
Khashoggi was killed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.
Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor has said Khashoggi was killed on the orders of a rogue intelligence officer.
Turkish officials however say they have evidence, including gruesome audio recordings, that the journalist was killed by a team of Saudi agents on orders that came from the highest levels.
His body has not yet been found.
Can this legislation become law?
President Trump has vowed to veto the measures, and they are unlikely at present to pass the House of Representatives, which on Wednesday blocked a vote on the matter.
But independent Senator Bernie Sanders, who co-sponsored the measures, said he expected the resolutions to succeed once Democrats formally take over control of the House in January following their mid-term elections victory.
The Trump administration had argued the bill on Yemen would undercut US support for the Saudi-led coalition against Iranian-backed Houthi rebels.
White House officials have emphasised US economic ties to the kingdom. Mr Trump’s adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has continued to cultivate ties with the prince, according to the US media.