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Democrats push Biden to take a tougher line with Saudi Arabia



In addition to promoting Mr. Kim and Mr. Malinowski’s travel ban The Foreign Affairs Committee unanimously voted to demand that US intelligence officials release a report on the role played by commercial entities controlled by the Crown Prince – such as shell companies or airlines – in Mr. Khashoggi’s murder. The amendment, led by Representative Ilhan Omar, a Democrat in Minnesota, sets out a process to ultimately impose sanctions on these organizations under the Global Magnitsky Act.

Lawmakers have also become increasingly concerned about the humanitarian crisis in Yemen as the nation faces rising hunger, which aid groups warn is likely to rise after an air and sea blockade by the Saudi coalition in Houthi-controlled territory restricted imports. of vital goods.

As part of ceasefire talks, Saudi officials last month offered to reopen the airport in Sana’a, the Yemeni capital, and allow fuel and food to flow through a major Yemeni port, but a Houthi spokesman said they would not agree to discuss a ceasefire. , until Saudi Arabia first lifted its blockade.

Members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee were shocked by a closed-door briefing they received late last month from David Beasley, the executive director of the United Nations World Food Program and a former Republican governor. Mr. Beasley, who had just returned from a trip to Yemen, painted a serious situation with mass results and hospitals without fuel, impressing lawmakers on the urgency of lifting the blockade “immediately”, according to two officials who attended.

“Ending US support for Saudi offensive operations in Yemen alone is not enough if we allow the blockade to continue,” said Representative Debbie Dingell, a Democrat in Michigan who led the letter to the Biden administration. “This blockade is causing enormous suffering and hunger among Yemeni children and families, and it must be lifted now.”

But pushing the administration to pressure the Saudis to do so could be an upward struggle, according to Peter Salisbury, a Yemeni analyst at the International Crisis Group, who said in an interview that port controls were “very important parts of leverage”. in the negotiations from the Saudi perspective. “

“Looking at it from the administration’s perspective, they’re trying to deal with these things through existing negotiation mechanisms,” Salisbury said. “In Yemen and in many other cases, there is no profound way to end the war.”


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