The murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the civil war in Yemen led to the questioning of Trump’s alliance with the Saudis. Even the Republican senators do not approve of Trump’s backing for Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. According to a CIA report, the crown prince instigated the murder. Before the voting for a resolution in the Senate to impose sanctions on Saudi Arabia, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense James Mattis asked senators to not let the “U.S.-Saudi alliance” be spoiled because of the Khashoggi murder. Pompeo and Mattis argued that there is no clear evidence linking the crown prince to the Khashoggi murder. On the other hand, CIA Director Gina Haspel’s absence in sessions garnered many reactions. Haspel met with eight senators from the “Armed Services”, “Foreign Relations” and “Intelligence” committees last Tuesday. The Senators, who did not share the content of the meeting with the public, left the meeting even more convinced that the instigator of the Khashoggi murder is the Crown Prince.
While Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who was also in the delegation, met with Haspel and stressed that the Crown Prince is the co-conspirator of murder on the highest level. Bob Corker, the Republican President of the Foreign Relations Committee said, “If the crown prince were put on trial, a jury would find him guilty in 30 minutes.” We should note the statement of Graham, who has been one of the most important supporters of the U.S.-Saudi alliance, saying that as long as the Crown Prince is in power that they won’t support arms sales to Riyadh, is an important development.
On the other hand, Haspel’s meeting with a small group of senators was not well-received. Rand Paul’s reaction, one of the influential Republican Senators, was even harsher. Senator Paul, who stated that he heard about the meeting from the press, added that Haspel should have spoken before all the members of the Senate. Paul said, “I think the very definition of the deep state is when the intelligence communities withhold information from Congress” and gave a message to Trump. Trump, since he got elected, was blaming the Federal Bureaucracy, “Intelligence Community” and even the Secretary of Justice for being a part of the “Deep State” that conspires against him.
After the “Haspel meeting” Senators continued to defy Trump’s relationship with the crown prince and Saudi Arabia. On Wednesday, six Senators, from both the Democrats and the Republicans, made a declaration blaming the crown prince. Among these senators, there were Trumpists like Lindsey Graham and Marco Rubio. In the statement made by the two-party group of Senators, it was declared that the crown prince, who is accused of being the name behind the Khashoggi murder, was risking the national security interests of the U.S. in the region in many fronts. In the declaration, which is also characterized as a decree, the crown prince was declared as responsible for the embargo imposed on Qatar, the human tragedy in Yemen, and the imprisonment of oppositional figures in Saudi Arabia.
This development demonstrates a serious “trust gap” between the Trump administration and the legislature. It is expected that the resolution about Yemen will be discussed next week in the Senate. For a long time, the Congress has been accused of its indifference to the “Military-Industrial Complex’s” “perpetual war” concept becoming a U.S. foreign policy. Critiques describe this situation by using the phrase “Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex”.
Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria are the latest victims of the “perpetual war” concept. Yemen is on this list too. The U.S. Congress is undergoing “a test of sincerity”. Do the Senators act with moral concerns, or do they just try to look as if they do and save the day? Or, if we state it with an expression Trump likes to use, will the crown prince be cleared by “paying a high price” and remain in power? We will see.