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6 Mar, 2019 23:00

US Senators lash out at ‘gangster’ Saudi crown prince, but the deals go on and on

US Senators lash out at ‘gangster’ Saudi crown prince, but the deals go on and on

US Senators accused the Saudi crown prince of going “full gangster” at a confirmation hearing for Donald Trump’s nominee to be US ambassador to Saudi Arabia – but when it comes to Riyadh, strong words are rarely matched by action.

Retired Army General John Abizaid, Trump’s pick for the job, stressed the importance of the US relationship with Saudi Arabia at the hearing on Wednesday, saying Washington needed a “strong and mature partnership” with the kingdom. While Abizaid was praised by senators for his military past, he also faced tough questions from lawmakers purportedly worried about Riyadh’s human rights abuses.

Also on rt.com CIA says MBS ordered Khashoggi hit, but don’t expect Saudi-US relations to change – John Kiriakou

A rare occurrence on Capitol Hill, both Republicans and Democrats could agree when it came to Saudi Arabia’s laundry list of misdeeds. Condemnation came from all angles, with both parties accusing Riyadh of rights violations, slamming its conduct in the war in Yemen, its torture of women’s rights activists and demanding accountability for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

During Abizaid’s hearing, Florida Senator Marco Rubio said Mohammed bin Salman had gone “full gangster” and was “increasingly willing to test the limits of what he can get away with.” Republican Senator Jim Risch said Riyadh and the crown prince would need to “address” the issues which were complicating the relationship.

Also on rt.com Khashoggi ‘victim of brutal killing, perpetrated by Saudi officials’ – UN-led inquiry

But if actions speak louder than words, another thing most lawmakers appear to agree on, is that the cozy and financially lucrative relationship with Riyadh is more important than concerns over human rights.

Until Khashoggi’s murder at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last October, there was rarely an audible murmur out of Congress about Saudi transgressions. Perhaps it was that silence which convinced the crown prince he could “get away with” Khashoggi’s death (in which he has been implicated, but denies involvement).

Also on rt.com Chilling quotes from alleged Khashoggi murder audio tape revealed

Since the journalist’s murder, lawmakers have been more eager to make a public show of their distaste for the Saudi prince. The House of Representatives even passed a resolution which would end US support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen. The measure must go through the Senate before it is sent to the White House where, as lawmakers know, Trump will surely veto it (unless it passes with a veto-proof majority).

Trump himself has already openly admitted that his soft response to Khashoggi’s killing was due to the fact that profitable arms deals are a higher priority than human rights.

Also on rt.com Newly released VIDEO is said to show Saudi hit team carrying Khashoggi’s body parts in suitcases

The first phase of Saudi Arabia's long-planned purchase of advanced US missile defense systems was finalized on Monday, as an independent report revealed that American and UK bombs have caused nearly 1,000 civilian deaths in Yemen, prompting fresh calls to halt arms sales to Riyadh.

Abizaid promised senators that he would have “forceful discussions” with Saudi leaders about human rights, but if past history is any indicator, it’s unlikely that “discussions” alone will provide any real impetus for change.

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