A group of six senators, comprising of Democrats and Republicans, submitted a bill on Thursday seeking to produce “meaningful accountability” toward individuals in Saudi Arabia who may have played a role in the death of a dissident journalist.
Following the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a journalist from Saudi Arabia who left his country after he had written critical opinion pieces about the Saudi royal family, many questioned what role the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman played in orchestrating Khashoggi’s death. President Donald Trump seemed to give bin Salman the benefit of the doubt, while leaders around the world were more skeptical of his professed innocence in the matter, per previous reporting from the New York Times.
On Thursday, action from the Trump administration was finally taken, and 17 individuals from Saudi Arabia were punished with sanctions from the president. Yet the senators who submitted their bill on Thursday said more needed to be done.
“While the Trump administration’s announcement today of sanctions on 17 Saudi individuals is a welcome step, it is far from sufficient,” one of the lawmakers, Sen. Bob Menendez (D-New Jersey), said, per reporting from The Hill. “There must be a transparent, credible investigation into Khashoggi’s murder and with this bill Congress is demonstrating its commitment to accountability and human rights.”
US Senate bill targets Saudi Arabia for Khashoggi's murder, Yemen https://t.co/oC3FDGzlIB
— Al Jazeera News (@AJENews) November 16, 2018
Joining Menendez in support of a stronger set of sanctions is Sen. Jack Reed (D-Rhode Island), Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-New Hampshire), Sen. Todd Young (R-Indiana), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine).
Their bill would go beyond the administration’s actions by requiring sanctions be placed within 30 days on anyone involved in the journalist’s death — including “any official of the government of Saudi Arabia or member of the royal family” who might have been involved.
The bill also addresses growing tensions in the Yemen civil war, of which Saudi Arabia is playing a major part. The Saudi government is using weaponry, purchased from the U.S. government, within that conflict.
The bill would stipulate a suspension of weapons sales to Saudi Arabia to coerce all nations involved to begin a peace process in the region.
The bill would likely be opposed by the Trump administration. Early in the controversy surrounding Khashoggi’s murder, when it was suggested that the Saudis may have played a hand in his death, Trump said to reporters he would not jeopardize trade relations with Saudi Arabia because of the matter.
“We don’t like it even a little bit,” Trump said at the time, per reporting from Quartz. “But as to whether or not we should stop $110 billion from being spent in this country, knowing they have four or five alternatives, two very good alternatives, that would not be acceptable to me.”