Is Saudi Arabia becoming a danger to the region?

We talk to US Congressman Ro Khanna about power politics and debate Mohammed bin Salman’s new strategy for the Kingdom.

In this UpFront special, we ask US Congressman Ro Khanna why he believes the US government should stop supporting the Saudi-led bombing of Yemen

Also on the show, we debate with a panel of experts the rights and wrongs of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman‘s domestic and regional policies.

Headliner: Is the US complicit in Saudi war crimes in Yemen?

This week the US House of Representatives voted 366-30 in favour of a non-binding resolution stating that Congress has not enacted legislation authorising the US military to participate in the war in Yemen. 

According to the United Nations, more than 10,000 people have been killed since the conflict began in 2015. 

US Congressman (Democratic Party) Ro Khanna believes this will put pressure on the government of Saudi Arabia, who has led the offensive and imposed a blockade that’s also preventing much-needed aid from getting into the country. 

“That’s going to make a difference. That can at least save lives,” says Khanna, who co-sponsored the resolution. “Today, I believe that we are aiding Saudi Arabia and Saudi Arabia’s committing war crimes.” 

In this week’s Headliner, we speak with US Congressman Ro Khanna about US involvement in the war in Yemen, his opinion of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s actions and their regional impact. 

Arena: Saudi Arabia, Iran, Yemen, Lebanon – what’s next?

It’s been called Saudi Arabia’s Game of Thrones. Under the leadership of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has arrested dozens of top officials in what the crown prince is calling a crackdown on corruption. His government has allegedly detained both the president of Yemen, Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, and Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri. So, what’s behind Mohammed bin Salman’s latest power plays in the region and the domestic shakeup? 

Rami Khouri, a political columnist and author believes the crown prince’s actions are dangerous. 

“The real problem in Saudi Arabia right now that I see…is that Mohammed bin Salman now is bringing in the third wave of Arab autocratic, authoritarian rule,” says Khouri, who is also a senior fellow at the American University of Beirut.

“What he’s doing is almost unprecedented, and it’s very dangerous, and it’s, I think, for the region, it’s going to be a problem.”   

Shireen Hunter, a research professor at Georgetown University in Washington, DC, says Saudi Arabia has been problematic in the region. 

“The Saudis are the greatest sponsor of terrorism, and they have been. Saudi ideology has destroyed the Muslim world,” says Hunter who is also the author of Iran’s Foreign Policy in the Post-Soviet Era. 

Fahad Nazer, a consultant with the embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington, DC, says the Kingdom’s strategy has been very consistent, and he places blame on Iran for instability in the region. 

“I think that it [Saudi Arabia] has adhered very closely to the laws, norms, and conventions of international relations,” says Nazer, who is also an international fellow at the national council on US-Arab Relations.

“I think that Saudi Arabia feels that it is more than about time that the international community starts paying much closer attention and starts to hold Iran, specifically, as the main state sponsor of terrorism in the region, and in the world.” 

In this week’s Arena, Rami Khouri, Shireen Hunter and Fahad Nazer debate Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s strategy, the proxy war in Lebanon, and Iran’s role in the latest Middle East crises.   

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