Sanders on Khashoggi response: US should ‘get out’ of Saudi-led war in Yemen

Vermont independent Sen. Bernie Sanders said Sunday that if journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed by Saudis, the US should distance itself from the Middle Eastern kingdom and cut ties to the war in Yemen.

“I think one of the strong things that we can do is not only stop military sales, not only put sanctions on Saudi Arabia, but most importantly, get out of this terrible, terrible war in Yemen led by the Saudis,” Sanders said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Sanders has criticized US support for the Saudi-led coalition’s military effort in Yemen and pushed for a vote earlier this year along with Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee and Connecticut Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy to have Congress weigh in on the United States’ assistance to the Saudis and other countries.

When asked about a response to the disappearance of Khashoggi, Sanders suggested a major shift in the US relationship with Saudi Arabia and pointed to his previous call for the US to separate from the war in Yemen, which he said was “causing a horrible humanitarian disaster.”

“It’s clear, we cannot have an ally who murders in cold blood, in their own consulate, a critic, a dissident, that is unacceptable,” Sanders said.

Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake made a similar point in an interview Sunday on ABC’s “This Week” and predicted that if the accusation is found to be true, Congress would cut US involvement in Yemen.

“I do think that arm sales will be affected,” Flake said. “Certainly our involvement in Yemen with Saudi Arabia will be affected. That barely, that involvement barely survived in the last go-around with the National Defense Authorization Act. It certainly won’t survive with this kind of accusation if it is true.”