Washington, D.C. - Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) spoke at a lunch on Capitol Hill about his resolution, which failed to advance in the Senate Tuesday, that would block a portion of President Trump’s $110 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia. Paul said he hoped his resolution would at least send a message that the U.S. would not tolerate the country’s human rights abuses.
Senator Paul cited some specific examples of the country’s human rights abuses.
He recounted the case of a 19-year-old Saudi woman who was raped by seven men and was sentenced by a Saudi court to 6 months in prison and 200 lashes because “it was her fault that she was raped according to their law” for not being accompanied by a male guardian.
Paul also brought up the plight of Ali al-Nimr who is on death row, sentenced to beheading and crucifixion for taking part in Arab Spring protests in 2012.
He mentioned blogger Raif Badawi who was sentenced by the Saudi government to ten years in prison and a thousand lashes for insulting Islam in his blog.
“I don’t want to invade Saudi Arabia and tell them what to do,” Paul said but, “that doesn’t mean we have to support them, it doesn’t mean we have to give them money.”
“Values do mean something and we shouldn’t be offering our weapons and our support to a country with these horrible abuses,” he emphasized.
Another major motivation for Paul’s resolution was concerns over whether Saudi Arabia is “dependable in not giving arms to terrorists.”
He pointed to evidence that high level Saudis were complicit in 9/11 contained in the, now declassified, 28 pages of the 9/11 Commission report.
He also quoted Hillary Clinton’s email to John Podesta, released by Wikileaks, in which she urges the use of “diplomatic and more traditional intelligence assets to bring pressure on the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which are providing clandestine financial and logistic support to ISIL and other radical Sunni groups in the region.”
Additionally, Paul argued in a Fox News op-ed Tuesday that the arms deal could prove disastrous for Israel.
Paul did not expect his resolution to advance or be taken up by the House but said there was a “certain symbolism” in it and it was about sending a message to the Saudis.
The Senate failed to advance Paul’s resolution by 47-53 Tuesday afternoon.