News & Politics

Bernie Sanders: 5 Reasons the U.S. Should Rethink Its Alliance with Saudi Arabia

The Vermont senator says we're long overdue.

Photo Credit: Senator Bernie Sanders / YouTube

Donald Trump's $100 billion Saudi arms deal has turned out to be the "fakest news" of his first trip abroad as president.

"I've spoken to contacts in the defense business and on the Hill, and all of them say the same thing: There is no $110 billion deal," Bruce Riedel, a senior fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, revealed Monday. "So far nothing has been notified to the Senate for review."

On Tuesday, senators approved a portion of the deal—$500 million worth—53-47, but not before Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) condemned the pact and all future arms sales in a fiery speech on the Senate floor.

"Mr. President, I also think it is long past time that we begin to take a very hard look at our relationship with Saudi Arabia," he declared Tuesday. 

Here are five reasons Sanders believes said relationship is no longer "serving the interests and values of the American people":

1. "The Saudi-led war in Yemen has created a humanitarian disaster in one of the region's poorest countries. Many thousands of civilians have been killed, many more made homeless and millions are at the risk of starvation, according to the United Nations refugee agency."

2. "The chaos in Yemen has also been strategically disastrous for the United States, providing fertile ground to extremist groups like al Qaeda and ISIS and creating new opportunities for Iranian intervention, in addition to being morally indefensible and strategically short-sighted." Sanders also attributes the spread of "an ultra-reactionary form of Islam throughout the world" to a "decades-long (U.S. funded) effort by Saudi Arabia." 

3. "The Trump administration's unconditional support for the Saudi coalition, including billions of dollars in arms sales, risks dragging the United States into yet another war in the Middle East."

4. Saudi Arabia is run by "a hereditary monarchy in which women are treated as third-class citizens [including] Loujain Hathloul, a Saudi Arabian human rights activist who was arrested at King Fahad International Airport in 2014," Sanders said.

Hathloul was arrested for driving and sentenced to 73 days in prison, during which she was barred from speaking with her family or an attorney. 

"More recently, Hathloul criticized a Saudi government-sponsored women's empowerment summit which was attended by Ivanka Trump for its lack of inclusiveness," Sanders added.

5. "There are times when we must work with problematic governments in order to advance our security goals," he continued. "[But] we have been giving a path to a government in Saudi Arabia [whose ideas and policies] have led to extremely negative consequences for American security."


Alexandra Rosenmann is an AlterNet associate editor. Follow her @alexpreditor.

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