Bernie Sanders: End U.S. Arms Sales to Saudis and Support for its Yemen War
At the Sanders Institute Gathering, Sen. Sanders joins Paul Jay to discuss his Senate resolution to end US support for the Saudi war in Yemen
PAUL JAY: Welcome back to The Real News Network. I’m Paul Jay. We’re in Burlington, Vermont at the Sanders Institute Gathering. And joining me now is someone who needs no introduction. Senator Bernie Sanders, thanks for joining us.
BERNIE SANDERS: Thank you, Paul, and thank you for the great work The Real News is doing. I appreciate it.
PAUL JAY: Thank you. Right now you’re very focused on your resolution on Yemen. Something verging on genocide going on, the Saudis’ intervention there. Talk about the resolution, and what you hope to achieve.
BERNIE SANDERS: Well, it’s not just me. We’re working with a conservative Republican, Mike Lee of Utah. Chris Murphy of Connecticut has also played a very great, good role.
What we have managed to do, what we did last week, is for the first time use the War Powers Act to move forward to stop a horrible, horrible war. And that war is the Saudi-led intervention in the Yemen civil war. Yemen has always been a poor country. But since the Saudi-led intervention and the bombing and the destruction of that country, what we have seen in the last three years is 85,000 children already starve to death. And what the United Nations tell us, the United Nations is telling us, is that millions more are facing starvation. There are 10,000 outbreaks of cholera, 10,000 new cases of cholera, every single week. So you have a country which is really being destroyed by the Saudi-led intervention in that country. And if we are successful, we will end U.S. involvement in that war. What we then do is move toward demanding peace in that area, and the humanitarian aid that Yemen desperately needs.
PAUL JAY: The U.S.-Saudi alliance, if that’s the word one could call it, is an underpinning of a whole strategy the United States has had since World War II in the region, allying with, essentially, a fascistic dictatorship that gave us al-Qaeda, gave us the Taliban, gave us the Islamic radicalization of Pakistan, on and on–including, perhaps, 9/11, because there’s–including senators who think the Saudis were directly involved in 9/11. If you’re president, what do you do with the relationship with–
BERNIE SANDERS: Well, I’m a United States senator. So I … Look, I have been doing my best to make just those points, and to say why are we deeply allied–and you know, and Trump has taken it to a new level. There is an outrage all over the country and in Congress that in the most cold-blooded way imaginable, enticing a dissident to walk into a consulate, a Saudi consulate in Turkey, killing him and then dismembering them. This is, presumably, our wonderful ally. And Trump can’t even acknowledge the reality of what the CIA has told them.
But it’s not just Jamal Khashoggi. What it is is a despotic regime run by one family, where women are treated not as second-class citizens, third-class citizens. It’s a regime that does not tolerate dissent, where there is no democracy. And it is now a regime under Mohammed bin Salman which has a very aggressive military posture which took them into Yemen. And what I fear very much, to pick up on your point, is that if we continue to back them, what you’re going to see is that the United States gets sucked into a neverending war in the Middle East.
Look, we can be very critical of Iran, and we should be. But our job is to try to bring peace to that region, not get sucked into. Their wars. So I think we have got to fundamentally rethink our relationship with Saudi Arabia.
PAUL JAY: Lindsey Graham seems to have given up on MBS and wants to dump him. But Lindsey Graham-
BERNIE SANDERS: That was yesterday.
PAUL JAY: But Graham doesn’t want to break the basic relationship.
BERNIE SANDERS: I don’t want to–look. That’s media stuff. You … look. As you indicated, this is a despotic regime, all right, which is responsible for enormous destruction in the very impoverished country of Yemen. We have got to fundamentally rethink our relationship with that regime, and try to play a level-handed role in what is a very volatile region, obviously, of the world. And do what we can to bring peace to that region.
PAUL JAY: Stop arms sales to Saudi Arabia?
BERNIE SANDERS: Yeah, absolutely. This should not be–look. These, this should … You know, when you talk about American values, that has nothing to do with what is existing in Saudi Arabia right now.
PAUL JAY: All right. Thanks for joining us, Senator.
BERNIE SANDERS: Thank you.
PAUL JAY: Thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.