Yemen Debate in Senate Shows Waning Saudi Influence

Once mighty lobby can no longer kill key legislation

Previous attempts to make a War Powers Act challenge against the Saudi-led war in Yemen didn’t go anywhere. It’s not that they didn’t seem to have some momentum, but rather that the Saudis were able to derail such votes.

When the Saudi Crown Prince came around telling senators they’d better not vote against the war, most didn’t. Indeed, the House leadership has been willing to change rules and flout laws to avoid the vote entirely.

This week’s vote shows how much things have changed. The murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by the Saudi kingdom, likely ordered by the crown prince himself, has cost the Saudis a lot of influence in the US, and the Saudi lobby simply can’t snap their fingers and expect the US Congress to rush to action.

If anything, the administration’s attempt to rely of fealty to Saudi Arabia in trying to save the war has many senators to see the vote as a specific way to punish the Saudis for Khashoggi’s murder. Not only has the Saudi lobby lost its sway, but in many cases it can be a liability now for a bill.

That said, those familiar with the lobbying effort say the Saudis are “self aware” about the situation, and realize that anger over Khashoggi’s murder is making direct advocacy “more difficult.”

Those wishing to call their senators should do so in the next few days before the matter comes up for vote. You can do this by calling the Capitol switchboard at (202)224-3121 or by finding individual contact information here.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.