“In the past three years, Congress has passed bills to stop the relatively small amount of U.S. aid to Saudi Arabia, only to see the Bush administration circumvent the prohibitions.”
“US house votes to ban aid to Saudi Arabia,” by Richard Cowan for Reuters:
Washington (ANTARA News) – The US House of Representatives voted on Friday to prohibit any aid to Saudi Arabia as lawmakers accused the close ally of religious intolerance and bankrolling terrorist organizations.
The prohibition, reflecting persistent tensions with the kingdom after the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States in 2001, was attached to a foreign aid funding bill for next year that has not yet been debated by the Senate.
It also faces a veto threat from the White House because of an unrelated
A spokesman for the Saudi embassy in Washington declined to comment on the
In the past three years, Congress has passed bills to stop the relatively small
amount of U.S. aid to Saudi Arabia, only to see the Bush administration circumvent the
Now, lawmakers are trying to close loopholes so that no more U.S. aid can be
sent to the world`s leading petroleum exporter.
“By cutting off aid and closing the loophole we send a clear message to the
Saudi Arabian government that they must be a true ally in advancing peace in the Middle
East,” said Rep. Anthony Weiner, a New York Democrat.
According to supporters of the legislation, the United States provided $2.5
million to Riyadh in 2005 and 2006.
The money has been used to train Saudis in counter-terrorism and border security and to pay for Saudi military officers to attend U.S. military school.
“Saudi Arabia propagates terrorism. We all know that 15 of the 19 9/11
hijackers were Saudi,” said Rep. Shelley Berkley, a Nevada Democrat. She added that
Saudi youths had entered Iraq to “wage jihad” against U.S. forces fighting there.
Lawmakers also complained that with Saudi Arabia`s vast wealth from oil
revenues, U.S. taxpayers do not need to subsidize training Saudis.
“With poor countries all over the globe begging us for help, why are we giving money to this oil-rich nation?” Berkley said.
Not to mention the many possible domestic uses for the money.
The U.S. State Department has routinely criticized Saudi Arabia for religious
intolerance, disenfranchisement of women and arbitrary justice.
U.N. committees and groups such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International also have been critical of the Saudi legal system and its rights record, including
punishments such as flogging and amputation.
Riyadh tends to dismiss the criticism by saying it follows the traditions of
Once again demonstrating the urgent need to develop and use alternatives to oil:
According to the Energy Information Administration, an agency of the U.S.
Department of Energy, crude oil imports from Saudi Arabia are the third largest after Canada and Mexico.