The United States is trying a new strategy to punish Saudi Arabia over its human rights record without provoking a veto. It has decided to reject visas for members of the Kingdom’s royal family. On Wednesday, Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Jim Risch revealed that it would bar members of the royal family from entering the U.S.
“This legislation is an effort to move the U.S./Saudi relationship in a different direction and I am hopeful to have the support of my colleagues in doing so,” Risch said in a statement. “We are all in agreement that we need to see a change in Saudi conduct going forward, and this bill would have a real impact in doing that.”
Chris Coons of Delaware and Sens. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire are the two Democratic co-sponsors of the bill, S.2066. To restrict a few arms sales to Saudi Arabia and impose sanctions over the killing of the columnist Jamal Khashoggi, the committee decides to vote on this month.
Sources said the restriction on travel in Risch’s bill will remain in place until the kingdom shows progress on human rights. The move has been planned to put pressure on Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, However, the prince personally will not be denied since heads of state and the Saudi ambassador would be exempt.
Risch usually supports the Trump Administration on foreign policy and he did not join the handful of Republicans who voted for the Democrats to disapprove of the administration’s move to force that sale of $2 billion worth of arms to Saudi Arabia against Menendez’s opposition.
In a hearing on Wednesday, Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs R. Clarke Cooper told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that supplying arms to Saudi Arabia is “not only a deterrent to Iran and a reassurance to our partners but it’s also a rebuff to our competitors.”