US Senate considers legislation to punish Saudi Arabia

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
US Congress (File photo)

The US Senate is expected to vote on legislation aimed at punishing Saudi Arabia over its brutal war on Yemen as well as the murder of a dissident journalist at its consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.

Senator Bob Corker, the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Tuesday that the upper chamber could vote on the resolution within weeks prior to the end of the year.

Corker said that the legislation seeks to stop all assistance to the Kingdom, adding measures to end arms sales to Riyadh would also be discussed at the Senate.

“Senators are looking for some way to show Saudi Arabia the disdain they have for what has happened, with the journalist, but also concerns about the way Yemen has gone,” Corker (pictured below) told Reuters.

“It would be very hard, if a weapons sale came up, to keep it from being undone, at least in the Senate,” Corker said.

Saudi Arabia has come under fierce criticism after journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed inside its consulate on October 2.

Khashoggi, a prominent commentator on Saudi affairs who wrote for The Washington Post’s Global Opinions section, had lived in self-imposed exile in the US since September 2017, when he left Saudi Arabia over fears of the Riyadh regime’s crackdown on critical voices.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is a prime suspect in the murder plot. 

Bin Salman has also been leading a devastating war on Yemen since 2015 in an attempt to reinstall Yemen's former Riyadh-allied regime and crush the Houthi Ansarullah movement, which has been running state affairs in the absence of an effective government.

Retired US general picked for ambassador to Saudi Arabia

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump has picked a retired four-star general for US ambassador to Riyadh as Washington faces pressure to respond to the killing of Khashoggi.

The key diplomatic position has been vacant since former ambassador Joseph Westphal left in January 2017.

Trump announced on Tuesday that John Abizaid, the longest-serving commander of the US Central Command, will be leading the American embassy.

Retired in 2007, Abizaid of Nevada served in wars in Grenada, the Persian Gulf, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq.

General John Abizaid (File photo)

After the Iraq War, he began leading CENTCOM, which overseas military operations in 20 countries located in areas from northeast Africa to the Middle East to Central and South Asia.

He is currently a private consultant as well as a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.

Formerly, he worked as the chair of the Combating Terrorism Center at the US Military Academy at West Point in addition to holding various senior positions on the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

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