- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Sen. John Kennedy said Wednesday that “it’s not realistic” to cut off Saudi Arabia even if they are found responsible for the suspected murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

Mr. Kennedy said the U.S. should find a way to condemn Saudi Arabia, “without blowing up the Middle East.” He suggested going through the United Nations, expelling diplomats, and sanctioning specific individuals.

“I think he’s dead, and I think somebody killed him. And I think it points to Saudi Arabia,” Mr. Kennedy told reporters on Capitol Hill, “That’s not acceptable and we have to make that very clear to Saudi Arabia.”

However, Sen. Kennedy argued that pushing Saudi Arabia away is not feasible if the U.S. wants “to contain the pressure cooker that is the Middle East.”

He stressed that if the U.S. cuts off its Middle Eastern ally, China and Russia are waiting in the wings to fill the power vacuum.



The Louisiana senator’s comments are a stark difference from some of his prominent Republican colleagues.

Sen. Marco Rubio, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, acknowledged the complexity of the U.S.-Saudi relationship in an interview on CNN Tuesday. However, he said American’s stance on this “catastrophic” situation was more important than Middle Eastern policy, even in light of a major arms deal between the two countries.

“There isn’t enough money in the world to purchase back our credibility on human rights and the way nations should conduct themselves,” Mr. Rubio said.

On Fox News, Sen. Lindsey Graham threatened to “sanction the hell out” of Saudi Arabia and demanded its crown prince be ousted from controlling the country.

Though diverging from his colleagues’ fiery calls for action, Mr. Kennedy’s arguments are close to President Trump’s own stance.

The president has restrained from casting judgment on the Middle Eastern country, and insisted that he must review the evidence the Turkish government has, “if it exists.”

“I just want to find out what’s happening,” Mr. Trump said on Wednesday.

The Saudi Arabian government is facing growing suspicion of orchestrating the brutal assassination of Mr. Khashoggi, a Saudi national that also had legal residence in the U.S.

The writer was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Turkey on October 3, where many suspect he was killed.

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