Connecticut Democratic Senator Chris Murphy said he’s probably been Saudi Arabia’s “loudest critic” in the U.S. Senate for the past five years. That’s because he believes that its government, led by Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, exports a “very intolerant version of Islam” that supports the building blocks of terrorist groups like Al Qaeda and ISIS.
“If you really want to fight terrorism, then you have to make sure that these very intolerant versions of the Muslim faith don’t become the rule across the globe,” Murphy said. “The Saudis have been involved in a vicious bombing campaign in Yemen that’s killing thousands of civilians there. The United States is helping them do it and that’s a stain on America...we’re taking part in that.”
According to the Brookings Institution, a nonprofit public policy group, the Saudis and the United States have done about $4 billion in arms deals since Donald Trump became president.
Murphy condemned Saudi-backed aggression in Yemen that’s led to the United Nations labeling it the “world’s worst humanitarian crisis.”. At least 22 million Yemenis need aid and 18 million are food insecure.
He said he’ll try to convince his colleagues on the federal level to do something about it, particularly in the wake of Washington Post writer Jamal Khashoggi’s apparent murder. Turkish officials claim Saudi agents killed the columnist at their consulate. The Saudis have denied any involvement.
“They tell us that they aren’t intentionally killing civilians inside Yemen with this bombing campaign, why should we believe them about that if they’re not telling us the truth about what happened to one of our own residents inside this consulate?” Murphy said. “An ally needs to tell you the truth. You can’t have an alliance if you don’t believe each other and right now, there’s serious reasons to believe that the Saudis aren’t telling us the truth about this and a lot of other things.”
The Khashoggi-Saudi saga is having an impact on one company headquartered in Connecticut.
Stamford-based World Wrestling Entertainment is facing pressure to cancel an event it’s holding next month in Saudi Arabia.
Murphy advocates that all American companies should reconsider doing business with Saudi Arabia, but he told Connecticut Public Radio that instead of spending his energy on telling one private company what to do, he’ll continue to focus on work that can be done in Congress.
“I don’t think the federal government or the United States Senate can go around telling private companies that they should pull out of Saudi Arabia, when we’re not willing to pull out of Saudi Arabia,” Murphy said. “So, my focus frankly is going to be on trying to get my colleagues in Congress to do something about this, not trying to go around and lecture to private companies.”
WWE Crown Jewel is a pay-per-view event featuring pro wrestlers that’s supposed to take place in Riyadh on November 2. The organization said it is monitoring the situation.
The event, along with The Greatest Royal Rumble that took place in Jeddah last April, is a part of a multi-million dollar deal that WWE has done with Saudi Arabia over 10 years.