Saudi Arabia’s de-facto leader is not the promised charming face of reform that has seduced the international stage with his promises of economic and social reforms in the conservative kingdom. He emerged as a feminist reformer after he lifted the ban on women driving almost 2 years ago but the hypocrisy was exposed after it was disclosed that at least three women activists who campaigned for abolishing the driving ban — Loujain al-Hathloul, Eman al-Nafjan, and Aziza al-Yousef, had been detained and are still behind bars till this day.
Giving women the right to drive proved to have been only strategically motivated to boost the country’s ranking in the World Bank metric of most gender-unequal countries in the world and Saudi authorities sent a clear message that any and all reform in Saudi Arabia could only take place due to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Since the savage murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the focus has shifted to the darker side of the Prince including the imprisonment of critics and human rights activists, thousands of civilian deaths in Yemen and a rapid rise of the number of executions since his ascent to power. Prince Mohammed Bin Salman is a criminal and a murderer and it is time that the United States stop the support for the Saudi Arabia-led war in Yemen. Lawmakers in both parties are becoming increasingly uncomfortable of the U.S. partnership with the Saudi-led coalition especially in the light of the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, an outspoken critic of the royal family.
On Thursday, the House of Representatives voted to end the United States’ support for the Saudi-funded war in Yemen, which has been ongoing for the past 4 years. The legislation, which passed by a vote of 248-177, is a significant win for the progressive wing of the party, whose members have long argued in favor of cutting off military support for Saudi Arabia. The U.S has provided weapons, targeting intelligence, and mid-air refueling support for the Saudi-led coalition throughout both the Trump and Obama administrations but the new legislation would put an end to continued U.S. backed hostilities in Yemen.
As the defense minister, bin Salman was instrumental in launching a military offensive in Yemen in March 2015 that has left more than 60,000 civilians dead and pushed millions of people to the brink of starvation. According to the World Health Organization, the war has left at least 400,000 children severely malnourished and fighting for their lives; over 60 percent of the population is currently facing acute food insecurity and over 2,200 people have died of cholera. Bin Salman’s main aim to consolidate himself as the center of power in Saudi Arabia and Saudi as the central power in the region has eviscerated the Yemeni economy and he would never fight the first war he entered to a draw, particularly given that he sees the hand of Iran behind the Houthis’ rise.
The official passing of the historic resolution to end U.S. support for Saudi-led Yemen war marks the first time that the House invoked never-before-used powers to demand that the sitting administration withdraw support from wars abroad. President Trump is expected to issue a veto of the measure; his second as president, but the action was nonetheless a milestone for lawmakers.
In a Senate floor speech ahead of the vote, Sanders said that Congress is reclaiming its constitutional war powers to end America’s complicity in a humanitarian crisis.
“We have been providing the bombs that the Saudi-led coalition is using, we have been refueling their planes before they drop those bombs, and we have been assisting with intelligence,” Sanders said. “In too many cases our weapons are being used to kill civilians. In August it was an American-made bomb that obliterated a school bus full of young boys, killing dozens and wounding many more.”
Congress is sending the Saudi coalition and the Trump administration a clear message that America’s elected representatives do not consent to involvement in this war and will never authorize it. Enough is enough.
(Article co-published with writer April N. of citizenobsessed.com)