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June 07, 2022

Thompson, House Chairs, Congress Urge President Biden to Recalibrate Relationship with Saudi Arabia

Letter Calls for Emphasis on Commitment to Human Rights

(WASHINGTON) - Today, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, alongside five Committee Chairpersons called on President Biden to further recalibrate the relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia, in light of reports that President Biden is considering a visit to the Kingdom in the coming months, and urged the president to forcefully advocate for a more balanced bilateral relationship that benefits everyday Americans and reaffirms long-standing American values.

The letter was signed by Reps. Adam Schiff (D-CA), Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committe on Intelligence, Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Gregory W. Meeks (D-NY), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), House Committee on Oversight and Reform, Adam Smith (D-WA), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, and Stephen F. Lynch (D-Mass.), Chair of the National Security Subcommittee of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.

“The Kingdom has long been an important U.S. partner, and we seek to further cooperate with it on regional, counterterrorism, energy, and other priorities. However, since 2015 its leadership has repeatedly acted in ways at odds with U.S. policy and values. Of most immediate relevance, Saudi Arabia’s refusal to stabilize global energy markets is helping bankroll Vladimir Putin’s war crimes in Ukraine, while inflicting economic pain on everyday Americans. Additionally, the prolonged Saudi-led war in Yemen has not reduced Iran’s malign influence, but instead created an unprecedented humanitarian disaster that will fuel regional instability. Finally, recent mass executions and Saudi pressure on Turkey to cease the trial for Jamal Khashoggi’s brutal murder bely claims that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is pursuing genuine reforms,” the members write.

Specifically, the Committee Chairs called on President Biden to:

  • Secure further Saudi commitments to stabilize global energy markets and definitively abandon its Trump-era oil production deal with Russia. 
  • Continue the suspension of offensive U.S. military support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen while pressing for the initiation of multi-party peace talks.
  • Call for an end to the Kingdom’s arbitrary detention of human rights defenders, as well as other human rights abuses.
  • Reiterate the U.S. demand for accountability, in line with established international legal standards, for the murder of journalist and American legal resident Jamal Khashoggi.
  • Hold firm to the longstanding U.S. policy of requiring robust safeguards for any civil nuclear cooperation.
  • Underscore the risks of greater Saudi strategic cooperation with China.

“We stand ready to work with you on advancing this agenda and request that senior members of your national security team brief Congress on these issues ahead of and following your trip,” the members add. “Pursuing these straightforward measures would achieve your goal of a recalibrated U.S.-Saudi relationship that serves both U.S. interests and values.”

Link to letter

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