Time Comes to Look at Support for Saudi Arabia

By Daily Editorials

September 7, 2016 3 min read

When the United States has friends like Saudi Arabia, who needs enemies?

Last month, Congress released 28 pages of secret documents on possible connections between the Saudi government and the 9/11 hijackers. Former U.S. Sen. Bob Graham, D-Florida, had long fought for the release of the previously classified pages of the investigation into the 9/11 attacks, in which 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi citizens.

This month, The New York Times reported on the Saudi government's long history of exporting a radical version of the Islamic faith that has fueled extremism and terrorism. The story noted that Saudi Arabia at the same time has been a U.S. partner in counter-terrorism, acting, in the words of one scholar, as "both the arsonists and the firefighters."

The U.S. alliance with Saudi Arabia is also being tested by the Saudi government's targeting of civilians in a military campaign in Yemen. U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Gainesville, is part of a bipartisan effort in Congress calling for the delay or possible halt of U.S weapons sales to Saudi Arabia — hopefully leading to an overdue reevaluation of the relationship between the countries.

Yoho, who sits on the Foreign Affairs Committee, joined Rep. Ted Lieu, D-California, in introducing a bill that would bar the sale of certain U.S. weapons to Saudi Arabia.

"Amnesty International has documented at least 33 unlawful airstrikes by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition across Yemen that appear to have deliberately targeted civilians and civilian facilities, such as hospitals, schools, markets and places of worship," they wrote in a draft of a letter, obtained by The Hill. "These attacks may amount to war crimes," they said.

The attacks included the Aug. 13 bombing of a school in Yemen that killed at least 10 children and injured 28 more. Days later, the Saudi-led coalition killed 19 people when it bombed a hospital operated by Doctors Without Borders.

The U.S. has for too long overlooked Saudi Arabia's abysmal human rights record due to a need for its oil. Starting with weapons sales, the U.S. needs to reevaluate its support.


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