Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has bravely declared that one of her first acts as president would be to “stop pretending” that Saudi Arabia is an ally of the United States.
“You can go down a laundry list of things that show that even as much as the policy establishment claims Saudi Arabia is an ally of the United States and they’re battling terrorism and all of these things — they’re simply not true,” Gabbard told Hill.TV on Friday.
“Their interests are not serving the interest of the American people,” she warned.
“Saudi Arabia is one of the biggest voices pushing this administration towards a war with Iran — that would be directly counter to the interests of the American people and purely for Saudi Arabia’s benefit,” the Democratic presidential candidate said.
Thehill.com reports: The longshot candidate won praise for her breakout moment during the first night of this week’s Democratic presidential debates.
Gabbard drew attention for a heated exchange with Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) about U.S. involvement in the Middle East. Gabbard, an Iraq War veteran, pushed back on Ryan’s claim that the Taliban was behind the 9/11 attacks.
“The reality of it is if the United States is not engaged, the Taliban will grow. And we will have bigger, bolder terrorist acts, we have got to have some presence there,” Ryan said of needing a military presence in Afghanistan.
Gabbard disputed his plan, saying that the Taliban “was there long before we came in and will be there long after we leave. We cannot keep U.S. troops deployed to Afghanistan thinking that we are going to somehow squash this Taliban.”
Her comments come after Trump and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman posed next to each other for a photo of world leaders at the Group of 20 summit in Japan. The two leaders were spotted exchanging pleasantries and making conversation.
Trump did not choose where he stood in the photo, but the image comes amid tensions between lawmakers on Capitol Hill and the White House on its position on Saudi Arabia.
Lawmakers expressed outrage over the killing last year of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, who had been a critic of Saudi leadership. The Trump administration failed to meet a deadline to issue a report to Congress on who was responsible for Khashoggi’s death, while many lawmakers have accused the crown prince of directing the killing.
The Senate last week voted to block Trump’s Saudi arms deal, setting up a potential veto in the White House.