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UNITED States senators who have put pressure on the Trump administration to pursue peace in Yemen by withdrawing military co-operation with Saudi Arabia are annoying Riyadh.
It is a sad commentary on US Senate priorities that its demand to withdraw US advisers, as well as technical and intelligence co-operation, from Riyadh’s war in Yemen, was not based on the scale of civilian casualties or the spectre of famine haunting 13 million people there.
Senators reserved their horror for the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Riyadh’s consulate in Istanbul.
And they placed the blame for organising this atrocity on Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, in line with US intelligence service assertions.
The House of Saud accused the US senators of taking a position “built on untrue allegations” and insisted that Saudi Arabia rejected “any interference in its internal affairs.”
A complicating factor is that US President Donald Trump’s adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner is a close business associate of the crown prince, who runs Saudi day-to-day political activities, given the frail nature of his father King Salman.
The unconvincing fiction from Riyadh — that Khashoggi’s killing was the work of a rogue intelligence officer — is dismissed by his fiancee and by Turkey, which has gruesome audio coverage of the consulate murder.
Even though the Senate demand for US withdrawal for backing for the Saudi war effort may be unsuccessful in the long run, unless the Democrats take control in the new year, its effects have already been positive.
It has provided an impetus for efforts to establish a ceasefire, especially with regard to the port of Hodeida through which most humanitarian supplies are channelled.
Whether US senators are motivated more by the prospect of millions of people starving to death or the murder of a single individual matters less than the possibility of Washington ending its support for Riyadh’s war effort, which would probably result in London falling in line.
The US Senate ought perhaps to flex its new-found muscles over the State Department’s attempt to disrupt dramatic steps towards peace between the two Korean states.
Guard posts along the 155-mile-long border that snakes across the Korean Peninsula have been blown up, with joint efforts to remove minefields and search for bodies from the 1950-53 Korean war.
Regular summits between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae In had their roots in confidence-building measures agreed by Mr Kim and President Trump, with a view to making the peninsula “a land of peace that is free from nuclear weapons and nuclear threat,” to quote Kim.
It beggars belief that the the State Department could endeavour to thwart this by placing sanctions on three of Pyongyang’s senior officials, which smacks of earlier US boasts that it would gain its diplomatic goals through “maximum pressure” against North Korea.
At an earlier Kim-Moon summit, the North Korean leader pointed out: “The road to our future will not always be smooth and we may face challenges and trials we can’t anticipate,” which may have been a reference to some form of State Department tricks.
But he scorned what he called “headwinds, because our strength will grow as we overcome each trial based on the strength of our nation.”
The stakes in Korea, as in Yemen, are so high as to call for an unprecedented level of courage on Capitol Hill to challenge Trump administration officials intent on returning the world to cold-war tensions.
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