Oct 19, 2018

Top Democrats want fundamental changes in U.S.-Saudi relationship

Photo: Nicolas Asfouri - Pool/Getty Images

Before the alleged murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi there were already murmurs of displeasure in Congress towards Saudi Arabia, many of them based on the horrors inflicted on civilians in Yemen. Where there were sparks, Khashoggi's disappearance has lit a fire.

What they're saying: Sen. Chris Murphy told Axios last month that pulling support from the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen "should be at the core of the Democratic foreign policy argument." Now, after Khashoggi's disappearance, he has called for a "fundamental review" of the entire U.S.-Saudi relationship. And he's not the only one.

  • Sen. Bernie Sanders: "The time is long overdue for us to reevaluate the US-Saudi relationship and ask whether it's actually advancing our interests and values."
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren is in favor of withholding arms sales to the Saudis — and would vote against any future sales, a spokesperson told Axios. She also supports cutting support for the Saudi coalition in Yemen.
  • Sen. Jack Reed, ranking member of the Senate Armed Services committee, told reporters the U.S. should "terminate the aerial refueling" of Saudi-coalition planes in Yemen regardless of further Khashoggi developments. He also said after a "thorough, independent investigation," weapons sales could be restricted.
  • Sen. Jeff Merkley: "The U.S.’ most powerful tool on the world stage is our moral leadership. Right now, our posture with Saudi Arabia is putting that leadership at risk."
  • Rep. Ro Khanna, who introduced a War Powers Resolution to pull U.S. support for the Saudi coalition in Yemen last month, told Axios: “I think this moment is capturing…the American public in a way that the 16,000 deaths in Yemen never did, frankly. And it’s leading to a fundamental re-examination of the relationship.”
  • House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, who was an original co-sponsor of Khanna's legislation and has called for an "open debate about America's role in Yemen," said in a statement on Thursday: "Given the reports surrounding Mr. Khashoggi’s disappearance, America’s relationship with Saudi Arabia ought to be carefully scrutinized."

The other side: This isn't just a Democratic issue. More Republicans have started speaking out, including Sens. Lindsey Graham, Marco Rubio, and Bob Corker.

Go deeper

Timeline: The India-Pakistan conflict over Kashmir

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The deadly protests during President Trump's visit to India between Muslims and Hindus flared over a new citizenship law, which critics say is anti-Muslim, are the latest clash between adherents of the two religions.

The big picture: Predominantly Hindu India officially removed special privileges in August for its only Muslim-majority state, Jammu and Kashmir region, exacerbating tensions with Pakistan. The dispute over Jammu and Kashmir, which lies between India and Pakistan and is partially controlled by both countries, dates back seven decades. It has sparked three wars and sporadic threats of nuclear conflict. India is now attempting to change the status of Jammu and Kashmir, prompting Pakistan to warn of “impending genocide.”

TimelineArrow3 mins ago - World

Coronavirus spreads to new countries, while U.S. confirms 57 cases

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

Public health officials confirmed Tuesday the U.S. has 57 people with the novel coronavirus, mostly those repatriated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship — an increase they had expected after the passengers were allowed to return home from Japan against their initial advice.

The big picture: COVID-19 has killed more than 2,700 people and infected more than 80,000 others, mostly in mainland China. There's only been two cases of person-to-person infections in the U.S. so far, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now warning that Americans should prepare for a much broader outbreak here.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 1 hour ago - Health