US House overwhelmingly approves anti-Saudi measures

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Legislators in the United States have voted overwhelmingly for a bill that seeks to impose sanctions on officials involved in the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Khashoggi was killed on October 2, 2018 in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul [Omar Shagaleh/Anadolu]

The House of Representatives approved the Saudi Arabia Human Rights and Accountability Act by a vote of 405-7 on Monday.

Introduced by Congressman Tom Malinowski, the act requires the director of National Intelligence to publicly identify the persons involved in killing of Khashoggi and impose visa and travel sanctions on them.

The other bill passed by the lower House of the Congress condemned Riyadh’s detention and alleged abuse of women’s rights advocates.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is further required to report on the extent to which Riyadh’s security forces and military are involved in human rights violations.

While the measures handily cleared the House, their fate in the Republican-controlled Senate is far from certain.

Senate Republicans are far less hawkish in their commitment to issue stiff penalties to Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi’s killing, particularly given President Donald Trump’s defence of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, or who’s widely known as MBS, who is chiefly suspected of ordering the murder.

Congress previously passed legislation mandating that Trump identify and sanction those responsible for the journalist’s killing, but he never complied.

Khashoggi was killed on October 2, 2018 in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. Saudi Arabia initially denied any knowledge of his whereabouts after he went missing but later attempted to blame his death on a team of rogue operatives carrying out a botched rendition operation.

That explanation, however, has flown in the face of international and US assessments of the killing, which place the blame for the murder on MBS.

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