Saudi slams US 'interference'

Riyadh laments US senate's symbolic vote to end support for Saudi war in Yemen, blaming Crown Prince for Khashoggi murder.
Monday 17/12/2018
e Saudi ministry warned that the kingdom would not tolerate any "disrespect" of its rulers.
e Saudi ministry warned that the kingdom would not tolerate any "disrespect" of its rulers.

RIYADH - Saudi Arabia on Monday denounced US Senate resolutions calling for an end to US military support for the war in Yemen and linking Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi as "based upon unsubstantiated claims".

"The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia rejects the position expressed recently by the United States Senate, which was based upon unsubstantiated claims and allegations, and contained blatant interferences in the Kingdom's internal affairs, undermining the Kingdom's regional and international role", the statement carried by Saudi Press Agency said.

The statement points out that Riyadh "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."

Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi was killed on October 2, after he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Riyadh has opened an investigation into the crime and levelled accusations of involvement in the murder at 18 Saudi nationals.

"The Kingdom categorically rejects any interference in its internal affairs, any and all accusations, in any manner, that disrespect its leadership ... and any attempts to undermine its sovereignty or diminish its stature," a foreign ministry statement said.

The Saudi statement added 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."

But the statement was also tempered in saying the kingdom "reaffirms" its commitment to relations with the United States and describing the Senate as "an esteemed legislative body of an allied and friendly government."

Saudi Arabia has vehemently denied Prince Mohammed was in any way involved in the killing of Khashoggi.

The Saudi statement also said the Senate's position will not affect the kingdom's "leading role in the region," its role in supporting the stability of international energy markets, its counterterrorism cooperation and its stand with the US in confronting Iran.

It "sends the wrong messages to all those who want to cause a rift in Saudi-US relationship," the statement added.

The Senate votes last Thursday were a rare rebuke to President Donald Trump, but largely symbolic. To become law, they would need to pass the House of Representatives, whose Republican leaders have blocked any legislation hostile to Saudi Arabia

Senators passed two separate measures, Thursday, one accusing the crown prince of involvement in the Khashoggi murder and the other calling for the end of US aid to the Saudi-led coalition in the war in Yemen, as it backs the internationally-recognised government against Iranian-aligned Houthis in a nearly four-year-old civil war.

Opponents of the Senate resolutions want to maintain the relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia, which they consider an essential counterweight in the Middle East to Iran.

At UN-mediated talks in Sweden last week, the warring parties agreed to a local ceasefire to try to avert more bloodshed in the port of Hodeidah which the Saudi-led coalition suspects of being vital to Iranian military supplies to the Houthis.  International NGOs see the port as key, also, to the delivery of humanitarian aid.

Administration officials also see Saudi support as a linchpin for an Israeli-Palestinian peace plan yet to be disclosed by the Trump administration. And they have argued that ending US support could complicate Yemen peace efforts.