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Saudi Arabia has denounced as “blatant interference” a resolution by the US Senate accusing the kingdom’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of ordering the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and calling for an end to Washington’s military support for a Riyadh-led war in Yemen.
The Senate’s move last week dealt a new warning to US President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly signalled his backing for the Saudi leadership even amid a mounting outcry the killing of Khashoggi, a critic of the powerful Prince Mohammed, and the devastating Yemen conflict.
“The recent position of the United States Senate, which has been built on baseless allegations and accusations, includes blatant interference in its internal affairs and the role of the kingdom at the regional and international level,” the foreign ministry said in a statement released by the Saudi Press Agency on Monday.
Khashoggi, a Washington Post contributor, was murdered on October 2 after he entered the Saudi consulate in the Turkish city of Istanbul to obtain documents needed for his planned marriage.
In a unanimous vote on Thursday, the Senate approved the resolution condemning Khashoggi’s murder and calling Prince Mohammed – also known as MBS – “responsible” for it.
The senators’ move came after senior intelligence officials from the US spy agency CIA reportedly said that such an operation would have needed the approval of MBS, the kingdom’s de facto leader.
After giving contradictory statements about the whereabouts of Khashoggi, Saudi Arabia admitted that the writer was killed inside its consulate and his body was dismembered. The kingdom maintains that Prince Mohammed had no knowledge of the killing, which Turkey said was ordered at the highest level of Saudi leadership.
“The kingdom has previously asserted that the murder of Saudi citizen Jamal Khashoggi is a deplorable crime that does not reflect the Kingdom’s policy nor its institutions and reaffirms its rejection of any attempts to take the case out of the path of justice in the kingdom,” the Saudi foreign ministry’s statement said.
On the Senate’s Yemen measure, which more broadly attacks Trump’s prerogative to launch military actions, 49 Democrats or their allies voted in favour, along with seven Republicans, while three other Republicans abstained.
Saudi Arabia launched a massive aerial campaign against Yemen’s Houthi rebels in March 2015, aimed at restoring the government of exiled President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.
Since then, the US has been helping the Saudi-UAE military alliance with weaponry and logistical support. Until recently, it was also refuelling the alliance’s fighter jets which were responsible for more than 18,000 raids carried out on the war-ravaged country, which, according to the United Nations, is the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.
More than three-quarters of Yemen’s population – some 22 million people – need humanitarian assistance, while 11 million require dire help in order to survive.
The Senate resolutions cannot be debated in the House of Representatives before January, and are likely to be vetoed in any case by Trump.
In its statement, the Saudi foreign ministry said: “The kingdom hopes that it is not drawn into domestic political debates in the United States of America, to avoid any ramifications on the ties between the two countries that could have significant negative impacts on this important strategic relationship.”