November 15, 2018

Menendez, Young, Reed, Graham, Shaheen, Collins Introduce Comprehensive Saudi Arabia Accountability and Yemen Act

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Senator Todd Young (R-Ind.)—along with Senators Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), and Susan Collins (R-Maine)—today introduced the Saudi Arabia Accountability and Yemen Act of 2018, comprehensive legislation to ensure effective Congressional oversight of U.S. policy on Yemen, provide leverage to push the stakeholders in Yemen’s civil war toward a political process, address the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, and demand meaningful accountability for the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

“While the Trump Administration’s announcement today of sanctions on 17 Saudi individuals is a welcome step, it is far from sufficient,” said Menendez who triggered the investigation and Global Magnitsky sanctions determination. “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.  On Yemen, the Administration’s recent decision to suspend U.S. aerial refueling for the Saudi Coalition absent an actual strategy for ending this conflict is empty action.  That is why this bill makes clear that Congress demands an immediate cessation of hostilities, urgently calls on all parties to prioritize protection of Yemeni civilians, and makes certain that only a political settlement will end this war.  We are putting teeth behind these demands with regular oversight, sanctions, and suspension of weapons sales and refueling support.”

“This legislation provides the Trump administration leverage it should use to push all parties in Yemen to engage in good faith and urgent negotiations to end the civil war and address the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.  Our national security interests and our humanitarian principles demand nothing less,” said Senator Young. 

“Saudi Arabia must be held accountable for its increasingly brazen behavior.  Ending aerial refueling support of the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen and imposing sanctions on some Saudi officials who participated in the murder of U.S. resident Jamal Khashoggi are welcome, but not sufficient.  Congress must demand full accountability for human rights abuses, including the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, while taking a more active role in pushing for a negotiated settlement to end the war and humanitarian crisis in Yemen.  This bipartisan bill is an important step in both regards,” said Senator Reed, the Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“This legislation is an important way to hold Saudi Arabia accountable for various acts in Yemen as well as the death of Jamal Khashoggi. Our bill sends an important signal, and when combined with the efforts announced by the Treasury Department, goes a long way to address despicable behavior on several fronts,” said Senator Graham. “I’m pleased to be working with Senators Menendez, Shaheen, Reed, Young, and Collins to make sure people in the region and the rest of the world know the extent of Saudi Arabia’s malign behavior.”

“Saudi Arabia’s barbaric murder of Jamal Khashoggi, continued detention of activists and indiscriminate bombing campaign in Yemen merit a strong, bipartisan response. I am proud to help deliver just that with this bipartisan legislation today,” said Sen. Shaheen. “While I’m pleased with the administration’s preliminary steps to hold Saudi Arabia accountable, additional measures are urgently needed to make clear what we stand for as a nation. This legislation demonstrates the strong bipartisan support for maintaining America’s moral leadership around the globe. It is imperative that Congress stands unequivocally on the side of human rights and democratic values.”

“The time has come to confront one of our allies in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia, over the Saudi-led war in Yemen and the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi,” said Senator Collins.  “The war in Yemen has become a humanitarian disaster, and the Saudi murder of Khashoggi is an egregious violation of human rights. Through the imposition of sanctions and the suspension of arms sales, this bipartisan legislation puts Saudi Arabian leaders on notice that we do not support how they are conducting the war, nor will we tolerate their outrageous murder of Khashoggi.”

A copy of the Saudi Arabia Accountability and Yemen Act of 2018 can be found HERE. Key elements of this legislation include:

  • Suspension of weapons sales to Saudi Arabia
  • Prohibition on U.S. refueling of Saudi Coalition Aircraft engaged in the civil war in Yemen
  • Sanctions for persons blocking humanitarian access in Yemen
  • Sanctions for persons supporting the Houthis in Yemen
  • Accountability report for all actors in Yemen in violation of international war or guilty of war crimes and harm to civilians
  • Mandatory sanctions on persons responsible for the death of Jamal Khashoggi
  • Report on human rights in Saudi Arabia

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