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Khashoggi murder: US Senate passes measure to end support for Saudi-led coalition in Yemen

The measures passed 63-37 in a Republican-controlled chamber with the backing of some of President Trump’s key allies, who have felt frustrated by what they is the president’s willingness to overlook the role played by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

world Updated: Nov 30, 2018 10:18 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, Washington
US Senate,Saudi Arabia,Jamal Khashoggi
In a rebuke of US President Donald Trump’s handling of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the US Senate passed a measure for ending American support to the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen against the Houthi rebels (File Photo)(AFP)

US Senate Republicans handed President Donald Trump a stinging rebuke Wednesday for his handling of the murder of a Saudi journalist when they voted to pass a congressional measure to end US support for Saudi-backed military coalition in Yemen.

The measures passed 63-37 in a Republican-controlled chamber with the backing of some of President Trump’s key allies, who have felt frustrated by what they is the president’s willingness to overlook the role played by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

“I changed my mind because I’m pissed.” Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican who is a close adviser to Trump, said to reporters after the vote. “The way the administration has handled it is not acceptable.” He had earlier planned to vote against the resolution.

The vote took place after a closed-door briefing by secretaries of state and defense Mike Pompeo and James Mattis, who failed to convince the lawmakers. Pompeo told reporters after the briefing that the resolution was “poorly timed” and passing it at time “undermines” the fragile peace talks, between Saudi backed coalition forces battling Iranian-supported Houthi rebels, that are to start shortly in Sweden.

Asked about the CIA’s assessment that Crown Prince Mohammad had ordered the killing, Pompeo said, “I do believe I’ve read every piece of intelligence. Unless it’s come in in the last few hours, I think I have read it all. There is no direct reporting connecting the crown prince to the order to murder Jamal Khashoggi.”

Senators had wanted to hear CIA director Gina Haspel at the hearing but the White House chose to send only Pompeo and Matties. The spy agency has disputed claims that the director was asked not to go to the hearing, and that she has indeed briefed some lawmakers on the agency’s assessment.

But this resolution, which seeks to end the war under War Powers Act, must pass the House of Representative to arrive at the president’s desk for enactment, neither of those two remaining stages is likely. Its passage in the senate would be a rebuke of the president and of ties with the Saudis, and no more.

First Published: Nov 30, 2018 00:53 IST