It has been two years since Jamal Khashoggi fatefully walked into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey and was brutally murdered.
The international community condemned this horrific crime, and the Senate voted to lay the blame at the feet of Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman. Unfortunately, Saudi leadership has not been held accountable and reports show that egregious violations of human rights by Saudi Arabia’s government are only increasing.
Official impunity for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi has left many U.S. citizens and residents with ties to Saudi Arabia in constant fear for their lives. For example, former Saudi intelligence officer Saad Al-Jabri and his family were reportedly victims of an international man-hunt in the United States and assassination attempt by Mohamed Bin Salman’s mercenary group, the “Tiger Squad.” In Amnesty International’s 2019 global review of the death penalty, they found that Saudi Arabia executed 184 prisoners, which was the highest annual number of judicial murders in Saudi since Amnesty began recording this data.
On this two-year anniversary of Jamal Khashoggi’s death, Congress can send a clear signal that they want justice and accountability.
Khashoggi’s heinous murder also highlighted another untold story for many Americans—the “forgotten” war in Yemen, and U.S. participation in that conflict. One journalist’s dismembering did what the death of more than 100,000 Yemeni children could not do: Get the U.S. media to cover the human rights abuses committed by Saudi Arabia.
For more than five years, the Saudi-UAE coalition’s war in Yemen has created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, leaving 14 million people on the brink of famine and over 2 million suffering from cholera. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have blockaded Yemen’s ports and cut off the flow of food, fuel, medicine, and clean water. They have conducted air strikes on schools, hospitals, weddings, and economic and agricultural infrastructure.
By using starvation as a weapon and undermining Yemen’s economy, health care, and educational systems, Saudi Arabia’s bin Salman has proven himself to be a ruthless monarch—not the progressive reformer that some in the Western press have described. He has found an ally in the Trump administration, which has continued to provide a blank check of support for bomb sales, targeting assistance, and spare parts transfers that help keep the Saudi-UAE fleets in the air, despite bipartisan majorities in Congress who have made it clear they want an end to U.S. participation.
On this two-year anniversary of Jamal Khashoggi’s death, Congress can send a clear signal that they want justice and accountability. The House Foreign Affairs Committee just approved H.R.4507, the Protecting Saudi Dissidents Act, introduced by Rep. Gerry Connolly (VA-11), which would create real accountability for Saudi human rights violations. Congress must now act to move the bill to final passage. Members must also invoke the 1973 War Powers Act to end unconstitutional participation in the Saudi-led war on Yemen. By taking these actions, they can bring justice to Jamal Khashoggi and all Saudi dissidents, as well as the people of Yemen.