GOP senator: US should 'reevaluate' long-term relationship with Saudis

GOP senator: US should 'reevaluate' long-term relationship with Saudis
© Greg Nash

Sen. John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoDavis: The Hall of Shame for GOP senators who remain silent on Donald Trump Senators ask for removal of tariffs on EU food, wine, spirits: report Latest Trump proposal on endangered species could limit future habitat, critics say MORE (R-Wyo.) said Thursday the U.S. needs to “reevaluate” its relationship with Saudi Arabia as the kingdom faces bipartisan scrutiny over its involvement in the killing of a journalist and the civil war in Yemen. 

“We need to really reevaluate our long-term relationship with Saudi Arabia. We have a strategic interest in terms of working closely with them, but they are in complete violation, and specifically the crown prince, of our American values,” Barrasso, who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said on CNN.

The Wyoming Republican added that he would co-sponsor a bill introduced Wednesday by Sen. Jim RischJames (Jim) Elroy RischDavis: The Hall of Shame for GOP senators who remain silent on Donald Trump Senators blast Turkey's move to convert Hagia Sophia back into a mosque Progressive group backs Democratic challenger to Sen. Risch MORE (R-Idaho), the chairman of the Foreign Relations panel, that would force the Trump administration to undergo a "comprehensive review" of the U.S.-Saudi relationship.

ADVERTISEMENT

The relationship between Washington and Riyadh has come under increased scrutiny in recent months after the October murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, who was killed in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. The intelligence community says Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was behind the killing, which was reportedly ordered as part of his crackdown on dissent. 

Bipartisan senators have also hammered Riyadh over its bombing campaign in Yemen against Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, which has contributed to a humanitarian crisis in the country.

“The U.S.-Saudi relationship has been going south for a long time,” Risch told The Washington Post for a story published Wednesday. “The Khashoggi event shocked a lot of people and brought a lot of people to the realization that the Saudis were not in tandem with us as they had been in the past.” 

The Senate passed resolutions this year to block a planned arms sales to Saudi Arabia and force President TrumpDonald John TrumpUSPS warns Pennsylvania mail-in ballots may not be delivered in time to be counted Michael Cohen book accuses Trump of corruption, fraud Trump requests mail-in ballot for Florida congressional primary MORE to withdraw U.S. support for the Saudi military efforts in Yemen. However, the president vetoed the Yemen resolution and is expected to also veto the attempt to block the arms deal. The Senate is not expected to have the votes to override Trump.

Despite the widespread criticism of Saudi Arabia, Barrasso recognized the country as a security partner in the region and said that Washington’s “strategic relationship” with Riyadh should not be completely scrapped. 

“And that is the issue. We’ve had a relationship with them for over 70 years, we’re going to need to have a relationship with them in the future. We need to see how that relationship works in terms of the way they behave in terms of their neighbors as well as for our own citizens,” he said on CNN.