Six US senators from across party lines have introduced a scathing resolution to hold the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman accountable for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
The strongly-worded proposal, which was introduced on Wednesday by a close ally of President Donald Trump, Republican Lindsey Graham, and by Democrat Dianne Feinstein, says the Senate “has a high level of confidence” that the crown prince “was complicit in the murder”.
If approved by the Senate, it would officially condemn Prince Mohammed, also known as MBS, for the killing of Khashoggi in the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul in October.
“This resolution – without equivocation – definitively states that the crown prince of Saudi Arabia was complicit in the murder of Mr Khashoggi and has been a wrecking ball to the region jeopardising our national security interests on multiple fronts,” Graham said in a statement.
Yemen war, GCC rift
The resolution also holds MBS accountable for alleged atrocities committed during the war in Yemen, which Saudi Arabia entered in 2015, urging the kingdom to negotiate directly with representatives of the Houthi rebels to end the conflict in the Arab world’s poorest country.
The Saudi-UAE alliance has launched more than 18,000 air raids, part of a war which has killed tens of thousands of civilians.
The resolution also called on the kingdom to end the blockade imposed by itself and three other Arab states on Qatar in June last year and seek a political solution.
The bipartisan group of senators also wants the release of blogger Raif Badawi, women’s rights activists and other political prisoners detained in Saudi Arabia.
Nabeel Khoury, a former US diplomat and deputy chief of mission in Yemen, said the Senate is starting to see MBS as a destabilising influence.
“Trump has lost the debate with Congress on what should be done about the Khashoggi murder and while he was out with Mattis and Pompeo arguing about the value of Saudi Arabia, what Congress is telling him is ‘No one is contesting that, we’re contesting the direction the Saudi policy has taken under MBS’,” he told Al Jazeera from Washington, DC.
“They have now linked all the destabilising actions that MBS has taken, staring with Yemen, passing by the Khashoggi murder onto Qatar and even Lebanon.
“The administration will have to act behind the scenes maybe to pressure Saudi Arabia into some kind of acceptable corrective force or this is going to get worse – in the end, Congress, especially the House, controls the purse strings and can eventually force the administration’s hands.”
SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies