The U.S. House of Representatives voted to impede arms sales to Saudi Arabia over the killing of U.S. citizen and famed reporter Jamal Khashoggi. Though several loopholes have been specifically stipulated in the bill, it has nevertheless become harder for Saudis to use U.S. weapons in their wars.
It has been a few months since Biden’s inauguration and the American president if not for anything else deserves some credit for overhauling the whole foreign policy system starting right with his campaign promises. Toughening up on Russia, easing the anti-Asian sentiment instigated by his predecessor, pulling out of Afghanistan and of course the recent attempts to restore the JCPOA. As expected not everybody is not onboard with these decisions and some sacrifices had to be made. Though some believe that Biden did a lot with regards to his reputation among the Israelis, experts do believe that it doesn’t even measure up when compared to what he is doing with Saudi Arabia right now.
Yesterday it was reported that the House of Representatives voted to restrict arms sales to Saudi Arabia over the killing of the former Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi who was murdered on direct orders from the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Dubbed H. R. 1392, the bill would greatly hamper the selling of arms and military equipment to the Saudi Arabia. It was introduced by Rep. Gerry Connolly of Virginia who represented the same district that once housed Khashoggi and his household. In spite of all that fervor, several loophole clauses have been specifically designed for the administration to circumvent the situation , provided that they can prove that those armaments aren’t doing to endanger anyone, specifically the American lives. Simply said it would mean that from now on, the Saudi lobbyists in Washington will need to do some heavy lifting and grease some palms.
There was no love lost between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United States since the start of the new century. After all, 9/11 was in part funded thanks to their petro-dollars and al-Qaeda was nonetheless smuggled to the safety of Afghanistan thanks to their support. However, one president after another, American leaders sought Saudi Arabia’s appeasement, justifying it as a necessary evil to keep the gears of the military economy or what Eisenhower described as “Military Industrial Complex” churning. Biden’s pragmatism made some adjustment to that flawed cycle. Between enraging Iran even further and risking an altercation with his allies inside and out, Biden decided that the threat posed by an uncontrollable actor would be much greater, hence he decided to push back on his allies and he did it with a flare. He needn’t worry about Israel, as Netanyahu was already losing its popularity but for Saudi Arabia he needed a better justification so the secret files about Khashoggi’s assassination were disclosed to the public. The loopholes designed for this recent bill are acting as remedies to assure the military industries that they can still fork enough money if the president wills it.
As for the Saudis foreign policy, it appears for the moment that some changes are in order. The U.S. new approach toward Saudi Arabia might just be the reason that has forced the Kingdom to seek rapprochement toward other countries and entities within its sphere of influence. For all we know, until a few months ago Saudi Arabia was still bent on continuing its unjust war against Yemen but thanks to the increasing number of attacks against Saudi Aramco and the lack of cooperation on the side of their allies, Saudis have been convinced to lay low for a while. Furthermore, there have been rumours concerning a top-level meeting between Iranians and Saudis regarding the Houthi movement’s recent attacks against Saudi Aramco. Although both countries have denied meeting under such circumstances, neither of them has ruled out a meeting in the future and that could be a direct result of the situation they find themselves in. It still remains to be seen to what extent Saudi Arabia will be willing to back down but if these recent events are any indication, great changes are already under way.