US President Donald Trump, right, shakes hands with Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman at the White House on March 20 in Washington DC. Photo: AFP/ Mandel Ngan
Then-US president Donald Trump shakes hands with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman at the White House on March 20, 2018. Photo: AFP / Mandel Ngan

In a recent development, the US Senate voted to withdraw military support for Saudi Arabia on the Yemen war. The Senate passed the resolution with 56 members voting for it and 41 voting against.

The resolution was co-sponsored by Senators Bernie Sanders, Mike Lee and Chris Murphy. Though the resolution will not immediately halt the US assistance to the Saudis in the war in Yemen, as the Republicans passed a bill just two days ago that in effect bars lawmakers in the House of Representatives from forcing a vote on Yemen-related resolutions until the end of 2018.

But this bipartisan Senate resolution, for which even a few Republicans voted in favor, points toward a big change in the House as well, where Democrats will be in the majority on 2019. US-Saudi relations became more hostile after the brutal murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. While US President Donald Trump backs Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, there are growing calls even in the ranks of Republicans to hold the kingdom’s crown prince responsible for the murder of Khashoggi.

The Yemen conflict is the most tragic event of recent times, where thousands of innocent people have lost their lives in the war between Saudi forces backed by the US and the Houthi rebels backed by Iran. The innocent people living in Yemen are caught in the middle of this fight as on the one side there are Houthi armed groups who are Shiite Muslims, while on the other side, the coalition led by Saudi Arabia is bombing them ruthlessly.

According to Amnesty International, because of this war more than 15,000  people have been killed or injured and it has resulted in a humanitarian crisis. Perhaps this move from the US Senate will help save the lives of hundreds of thousands of innocent Yemenis targeted mercilessly by the Saudi-led coalition and the Houthi armed groups.

One wonders why it took Jamal Khashoggi’s murder to make the lawmakers realize that the US has been backing Saudi Arabia in killing thousands of civilians in Yemen

One wonders why it took Jamal Khashoggi’s murder to make the lawmakers realize that the US has been backing Saudi Arabia in killing thousands of civilians in Yemen.

Perhaps this can be seen as a signal to the Saudi kingdom that the US is ready to hold Mohammad bin Salman responsible for Khashoggi’s killing. Anger had been growing in the US over the recent findings of the Central Intelligence Agency that pointed to possible involvement by the crown prince in the killing and Turkey’s claim of a telephonic recording in which the killers were talking to higher Saudi officials about the success of the mission.

This anger within the US from civil society and human-rights organizations compelled the senators to adopt a bipartisan resolution for immediately halting the assistance to Saudi royals and holding the crown prince responsible for the murder of Khashoggi. Donald Trump will definitely try to save the House of Saud because of his son-in-law Jared Kushner’s cordial ties with them, but it seems that the honeymoon is over, and Khashoggi’s murder played a vital role in ending this decades-old romance that has resulted in chaos and bloodshed in the Muslim world.

Saudi Arabia has always controlled the Muslim world with the support of the US. Since the late 1970s the Saudi-US nexus has toppled regimes in different Muslim countries to assert their authority. Many Muslim countries like Egypt that were trying to interpret the theological teachings of Islam according to modern times were subjected to proxy battles asserted by the Saudi kingdom that resulted in civil wars in those countries. Libya, Egypt and Sudan are just a few examples.

Saudi Arabia has been nurturing religious fundamentalism among the Muslim countries with the support of the US, and probably this is the right time for the US to put an end to this long game of nurturing terrorists and then hunting them in the name of war against terrorism by refusing to assist Saudi Arabia in spreading religious extremism among the Muslim countries.

Khashoggi’s murder has only provided a glimpse of the atrocities of the Saudi monarchs and their role in pushing the Muslim civilization to the brink of destruction through religious and economic exploitation, something never before highlighted in the US Congress. Perhaps this was seen as the right time for senators like Bernie Sanders to stand up in an attempt to stop the US administration from backing the Saudi royals in their desire and mission to manipulate and control the Muslim world.

If sanctions can be imposed on Iran for its inhuman treatment of its own citizens and for waging proxy battles in the Muslim world, why not make the Saudi royals face sanctions for being responsible for the demise of the Muslim civilization and giving birth to the concepts of extremism and jihad in order to assert their power?

There are thousands who have been brutally killed in the Yemen war, and Saudi Arabia, Iran and US are equally responsible. Perhaps the US itself needs to establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to take responsibility for the murders of innocent people in Yemen and other Muslim countries with the backing of the Saudi royals.

This recent move from the US Senate to stop Trump from saving Mohammad bin Salman and try to get out of the Yemen conflict can be termed a good development, as the US backing out of the Yemen conflict will create an opportunity to end this mad war and finally give a chance to peace, rescuing thousands of human beings in Yemen from living in misery.

As far as Khashoggi’s murder is concerned, the House of Saud will go to any extent to save the crown prince and the royals’ grip on power. It still has to be seen whether US lawmakers will actually compel the White House and the Pentagon officially to implicate Mohammad bin Salman in Khashoggi’s murder.

Imad Zafar

Imad Zafar is a journalist and columnist/commentator for newspapers. He is associated with TV channels, radio, newspapers, news agencies, and political, policy and media related think-tanks.

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