MURPHY: ONE YEAR AFTER KHASHOGGI MURDER, WE MUST KEEP DEMANDING ACCOUNTABILITY AND QUESTIONING THE NATURE OF THE U.S.-SAUDI ALLIANCE

Click here to view video of Murphy’s remarks

WASHINGTON — U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), top Democrat on the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near East, South Asia, Central Asia and Counterterrorism, on Thursday joined the Project on Middle East Democracy and twelve other advocacy organizations to highlight the upcoming one year anniversary of the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi and cast a light on the Saudi government’s continued attacks on perceived critics of the Kingdom.

Murphy said: “You have to do something to deserve to be an ally of the United States. And my take was that Saudi Arabia for a very long time had been doing far too many things that were contrary to both U.S. national security interests and our values sets that should cause us to reevaluate the nature of that friendship.”

“What I didn't know at the time was that the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was not limiting their campaign of repression to the territory inside their borders. That in fact they were chasing down dissenters and journalists all over the world to try to intimidate and bully them into adopting the royal family’s line. Obviously, they crossed an immensely important line in the kidnapping, the brutal murder, and the cover up related to Jamal Khashoggi’s murder,” Murphy continued.

Murphy concluded: “We have to keep questioning the nature of a relationship and an alliance that no longer is founded on common interests and has never been founded on common values.”

After the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Turkey almost one year ago, Murphy reiterated his call for the suspension of military support for the Saudi-led campaign in an a Washington Post op-ed.

A full transcript of Murphy’s remarks are below.

“Thank you all for being here today, I am sorry that some of us are delayed. We were in an Appropriations Committee markup upstairs. But I'm very, very grateful for all the work you put into this event. Thank you to the panel for your contributions.

“Several years ago, I went up to New York and I gave a speech calling into question the nature of the U.S. alliance with Saudi Arabia. This was before anyone in Washington, DC had heard of Jamal Khashoggi. Obviously, he was well-known in the Kingdom.

“I was one of the first senators, maybe the first, to raise some serious and comprehensive questions about why we were under the belief that this alliance, this seemingly unbreakable alliance between the United States and Saudi Arabia, was so critical to our national security. Especially when the Saudis were fueling a war in Yemen that was killing tens of thousands of children through famine and starvation, funding a version of Islam that ultimately often forms the building blocks of dangerous extremist organizations, and carrying out a campaign of repression and oppression on its people that simply didn't align with the values of the United States.

“You have to do something to deserve to be an ally of the United States. And my take was that Saudi Arabia for a very long time had been doing far too many things that were contrary to both U.S. national security interests and our values sets that should cause us to reevaluate the nature of that friendship.

“What I didn't know at the time was that the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was not limiting their campaign of repression to the territory inside their borders. That in fact they were chasing down dissenters and journalists all over the world to try to intimidate and bully them into adopting the royal family’s line.

“Obviously, they crossed an immensely important line in the kidnapping, the brutal murder, and the cover up related to Jamal Khashoggi’s murder.

“And I think what we have to remember is that it took two weeks for the Saudi government to cop to what had happened. The people that we do business with—the president and the Secretary of State that talked to you on a regular basis—were lying to the entire world and to the American public for two weeks when it was patently clear as to what had happened.

“Our allies, people that we do business every single day, were looking us in the eye and lying to us. And looking the international community in the eye and lying to them. If that alone doesn't serve to make us question the sincerity of the Saudi desire to be a true, equal, and forthright partner with the United States, then I don’t know what will.

“I was really saddened when I saw our Secretary of State travel to Riyadh to meet with the Crown Prince after the revelations regarding the murder came to light. The Saudis should be coming to us to apologize for kidnapping a journalist under U.S. protection rather than the world watching us travel there to present a smiling press conference in an attempt to paper over this gross violation of human rights.

“There's been no accountability, no meaningful accountability, in the year since Mr. Khashoggi’s murder. We continue to press for that accountability. We were able to get bipartisan votes on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for a strong accountability measure. But moments after we got the votes for that piece of legislation in the Foreign Relations Committee, the chairman of the committee gaveled the hearing to adjournment because he refused to let that bipartisan piece of legislation reach the Senate floor.

“So we've got to keep fighting. We’ve got to keep raising this issue. We have to keep questioning the nature of a relationship and an alliance that no longer is founded on common interests and has never been founded on common values. I'm glad that you are continuing to raise these questions and to command Congress to do better. So thank you very much for including me. Thanks for all the work that went into this.” 

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