By Godson Ikiebey-
According to Senate Majority leader, Mitch McConnell, the U.S. alliance with Saudi Arabia has made it difficult for Congress to find the right way to respond to the murder six months ago of columnist and government critic Jamal Khashoggi.
Senator McConnell said this on Thursday, April 11, 2019, while speaking with reporters. He said:
“What clearly happened is outrageous and unacceptable. On the other hand, Saudi Arabia is an important ally against the Iranians, so it is a difficult problem to figure out exactly the most appropriate response, It’s been a struggle”.
The Senate passed a nonbinding resolution in December, 2018 putting responsibility for Khashoggi’s killing on Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, but the House, then under Republican control, didn’t take up the measure.
This year, a bipartisan group of senators including Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, an ally of President Donald Trump, have backed legislation to punish the kingdom. Earlier this month, the House voted to direct the president to withdraw U.S. support for the Saudi-led campaign in Yemen’s civil war. The Senate approved that measure in March, 2019.
The Trump administration has already imposed sanctions on Saudis accused of involvement in the killing of Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. Earlier this week, the State Department said it would deny entry to 16 Saudis “over their roles” in the murder. But the U.S. hasn’t targeted the crown prince, who has strongly denied playing any role in the episode.
McConnell said Khashoggi’s killing has overshadowed the progress that Saudi Arabia has made.
“It’s all been overwhelmed by this outrageous act, but a lot of reform is occurring in Saudi Arabia, and we do appreciate having an ally against the Iranians. It’s a tough situation”.
Trump has been eager to prevent the killing from hampering the U.S. relationship with the kingdom.
In a White House statement, President Trump was said to have spoken this week with the crown prince about “Saudi Arabia’s critical role in ensuring Middle East stability, maintaining maximum pressure against Iran, and the importance of human rights issues”,
Senator McConnell said he continues to oppose attempts to cut off any U.S. support for the Saudis in the Yemen conflict using the War Powers Act, predicting that a veto by President Trump would be sustained.