Joe Biden Says He Would Make Saudi Arabia a «Pariah»
By Staff, The Intercept
Former US Vice President and Democratic candidate for the 2020 presidential elections Joe Biden said he would not sell weapons to Saudi Arabia – marking a sharp contrast with the Obama administration – and stressing he would make the Saudis “pay the price” for their killing of Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi.
Biden made his remarks during the Democratic debate on Wednesday night.
“I would make it very clear we were not going to in fact sell more weapons to them,” Biden said. “We were going to in fact make them pay the price, and make them in fact the pariah that they are.” Biden also said there is “very little social redeeming value in the present government in Saudi Arabia,” and, in reference to Yemen, said he would end “end the sale of material to the Saudis where they’re going in and murdering children.”
Biden’s admission is a significant departure from the Democratic Party position before Donald Trump. Saudi Arabia objected to the US’s posture during the so-called Arab Spring, as well as the Obama administration’s diplomatic overtures toward Iran, but that did not stop the US from supporting the Saudis’ intervention in Yemen and from selling Saudi Arabia more than $100 billion in weapons. In recent years, under Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman [MBS], Saudi Arabia has launched an unprecedented crackdown on dissent at home and abroad, and Khashoggi’s murder has led Democrats to call for fundamental changes to the US-Saudi alliance.
At the Atlanta debate, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders called Saudi Arabia a “brutal dictatorship” and said that “what we’ve got to know is that Saudi Arabia is not a reliable ally.” He added, “We need to be rethinking who our allies are around the world, work with the United Nations, and not continue to support brutal dictatorships.”
New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker said, “It’s a human rights violation, without coming to the United States Congress, for an authorization for the use of military force, for us to refuel Saudi jets to bomb Yemeni children.” Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar said, “When the president did not stand up the way he should have to that killing and dismemberment of a journalist with an American newspaper, that sent a signal to all dictators across the world that that was OK.”
Indeed, many of the more captivating moments of the debate – the fifth in the monthly series – were focused on foreign policy, and on appealing to black voters. And the longstanding frontrunners – Biden, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and Sanders – left ample room for the other seven to jump in. Warren had been at the center of a firestorm in last month’s Democratic debate, having pulled ahead in national and early-state polls. She has slipped in national polls, as South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg has climbed, and questions about topics in her wheelhouse – corruption, and Medicare for All – flew by without incident.