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.
REPRINTED FROM THE NORTHWEST FLORIDA DAILY NEWS