Defying Trump, U.S. senators renew pressure on Saudis with focus on Yemen

By Patricia Zengerle

Republican and Democratic U.S. senators revived an effort to pressure Saudi Arabia over human rights, by pushing the country to fulfill its commitment to provide $750 million this year to help the people of Yemen, according to a letter seen by Reuters on Wednesday.

The letter sent on Tuesday to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman acknowledged past Saudi contributions for aid in Yemen, but said the Saudis have provided just a small share of a current $750 million commitment.

The letter added that the United Nations was counting on that funding for programs to provide vaccinations, food, fuel and medicine.

"If funding is not received by the end of October, 5 million people - in a country facing the largest cholera outbreak in modern history - will lose access to clean water," the letter said.

The war in Yemen, where the Saudis and the United Arab Emirates lead an air campaign against Iran-backed Houthi rebels, is considered one of the world's worst humanitarian disasters.

U.N. officials have called out several countries for failing to meet aid commitments. On Aug 21, the world body warned that 22 "life-saving" aid programs in Yemen would be forced to close if countries' funds were not provided.

The letter was led by Democratic Senator Chris Murphy and Republican Senator Todd Young, who are among the most vocal U.S. lawmakers pressing for a strong U.S. response to Saudi Arabia over its human rights record, including its role in the war in Yemen.

Many members of Congress, including some of Trump's fellow Republicans, have criticized the president's close ties to Riyadh for months and backed several efforts - which have failed so far - to stop him from selling arms to the kingdom without congressional approval or providing support to the Saudi-UAE air campaign.

Murphy and Young plan to force another Senate vote on U.S. security assistance to Saudi Arabia, using a provision of U.S. rights law that allows Congress to request a vote on any country's human rights practices.

A Senate aide noted that concern about Saudi Arabia is fueled partly by the upcoming anniversary of the October 2018 murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a U.S. resident and Washington Post columnist, at a Saudi consulate in Turkey.

The letter was also signed by Republicans Rand Paul, Jerry Moran and Susan Collins, as well as Democrats Benjamin Cardin, Christopher Coons and Cory Booker.

The Saudi embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2019.

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

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Get ready for Donny to start disparaging these people in a Twitter tantrum.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Prior to 2015 when the Saudis started the bombing in Yemen, they were still a counterweight to Iran.

The purpose for Obama giving the green light to the Saudi campaign in Yemen was a reward for the US signing the nuclear agreement with Iran, which the Saudis had vehemently opposed.

Since that agreement has been abrogated, the reason for the Saudis to continue their bombing is also abrogated.

Tens of thousands of Yemenis killed, and continue to be killed, just to uphold something that is already established?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Trump must tell the Saudi to stop its bombing, no excuses accepted. Children are dying.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Not a single islamic country has signed the UN human rights declaration, so it is ridiculous singling out Saudi on that issue.

As for Yemen, that is part of the larger Shia-Sunni conflict, so the US ignants should stay of it. But of course the swamp can not stop meddling.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Only 25% of donor money will go to refugees and 75% of donor money will go to the UN fat cats and staffers as administration costs. The UN and NGOs are helping themselves instead of helping unfortunate peoples in war-torn country.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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