Riyadh rejects US Congress intervention


Saudi Arabia’s response to the two resolutions recently adopted by the US Senate requires no explanation. One of these resolutions targeted Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman while the other called on the US Administration to end its cooperation with the Saudi-led Arab Coalition to restore stability and legitimacy in Yemen.

The Kingdom’s response was absolutely necessary and clear when it comes to matters such as interfering in internal affairs, undermining sovereignty, affecting the Saudi leadership, in addition to an attempt to influence the leading role played by Riyadh in regional and international arenas, especially its pioneering role in leading the Arab and Islamic worlds.

Those who follow the American policy must take into account some very important observations. The Senate’s resolution, based on “unfounded” accusations, is “nonbinding” for the administration of President Donald Trump. It also has no legal or legislative impact.

Such resolutions are merely an expression of the views of the Senators, and there is no need to send them to the House of Representatives for approval, and then to the White House for approval or rejection by the President. However, Congress, which represents the legislative authority as per the American Constitution, has attempted to make itself, with this resolution, a judicial authority, which has the right to convict or exonerate in a legal case, even on matters that concern another country that enjoys sovereignty and independence.

The US Senate is not like the British House of Lords, which is the supreme judicial body in that country. The Court at the House of Lords is not a club of nobles. Its members stand at the top of the upper echelons of the country, and they are judges who served the judiciary until they were promoted to the rank of Law Lord.

This situation, as I understand it, does not apply to the US Senate, and therefore it has no right to incriminate whomever it pleases and acquit whomever it wishes on the basis of narrow political interests, represented by groups whose members have their own interests and objectives.

Saudi Arabia’s statement last Monday was explicit in its rejection of the Senate resolution. The Kingdom considers it as unacceptable interference in its internal affairs, undermining its sovereignty and opposing its leadership, represented by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman and Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman.

The resolution is also an attempt to politicize the murder case of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, despite the fact that this is a criminal case and not a political one. The case is being investigated by the Saudi Public Prosecution, in preparation for referring those against whom charges were framed to a Saudi court of law. The officials of the Saudi executive do not interfere in the work of the judiciary. The Public Prosecution has officially asked the Turkish government to provide evidence that they claim to have but Ankara has not done so.

The second resolution of the US Senate was adopted within the purview of the War Powers Resolution, passed by Congress in 1973. The resolution calls on the Trump Administration to stop US military cooperation with the Saudi-led Arab Coalition in Yemen.

There are important observations in this regard. The first is that the comments of all political analysts, including the commentators and editors of The Washington Post, which is leading the frenzied media campaign against the Kingdom, are unanimous that it is not at all likely that the Republican-controlled House of Representatives will support this resolution, in line with the justification of the US Administration for supporting the Coalition in Yemen. Even if we assume, for the sake of argument, that the House of Representatives passes the resolution, it is likely that the US president will use his constitutional right to veto it. This is because US national security dictates standing with Saudi Arabia and its allies to fight terrorism and ensure curbing Iranian destabilization plans that threaten not just the countries of the region or the United States alone but the entire world.

It should be noted that the “War Powers Resolution” that originally targeted the Nixon administration has been controversial since its adoption in 1973. Evidence for this is that all elected US presidents were skeptical about the constitutionality of the resolution, and considered it a threat to both national security and the role of the United States in leading the world.

The War Powers Resolution gives Congress the right to declare war, and authorize the transfer of the funds necessary to wage it. However, the US executive branch of government contends that the president is the supreme commander of the armed forces, and as such he determines the degree of danger that threatens the security of the country, as well as the safety of its citizens, and its external interests.

Even if anti-Saudi Senators decide to push their decision on Yemen to the new House of Representatives, which will meet for the first time at the beginning of 2019, it is clear that there is not a majority to pass it. And even if it is passed, President Trump will definitely veto it.

The success of the peace talks between the Yemeni parties in Sweden last week, and the subsequent announcement of an agreement on Hodeidah and Taiz and the exchange of thousands of prisoners have opened the door to the possibility of a political solution to the Yemeni crisis despite Iran’s interference and attempt to incite its Houthi agents to sabotage any political settlement. All of these developments make members of Congress talk instead about the humanitarian dimensions of the Yemeni war.

It is certain that the Senate decision on Yemen was not issued for the sake of Yemenis, but to oppose Riyadh. When the attempt to stifle the Saudi-led efforts in Yemen failed, the Senate posed as a court to offend the Kingdom and its leadership, based on unfounded allegations and accusations, but Riyadh is unaffected and remains just as confident as it is always was.

— The author is a Saudi writer. Follow him on Twitter: @JameelAlTheyabi