Republicans ready to weaken USA military support for Saudis

Senator Menendez speaks to the media after a closed briefing for senators about the latest developments related to the murder of Khashoggi

Senators could vote on a bipartisan resolution to end USA military support for the Saudi-led coalition this week.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has defended the administration's backing of Saudi Arabia in the war in Yemen, saying withdrawing support would undermine efforts to reach a ceasefire.

"Any key vote, anything that you need me for to get out of town, I ain't doing it until we hear from the CIA", Mr Graham said.

Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist working for The Washington Post, was killed shortly after he entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on October 2.

Saudi Arabia will lend Tunisia US$500 million at a favourable interest rate and will finance two projects worth $140 million, two sources told Reuters on Wednesday, a day after a visit from the Saudi crown prince that drew Tunisian protests.

The president has faced accusations of ignoring US intelligence that concluded, according to a USA official, that it was likely the crown prince himself ordered the killing.

Trump has cast doubt on who is to blame for the murder. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called on Muslim countries to unite in face of regional challenges, like in Yemen, and those aiming to instigate divisions and conflict between them.

The procedural measure passed 63-37, a strong rebuke to the president's authority and a reversal for the Senate, which rejected the same measure just nine months ago when only 44 senators supported it.

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The frustration seemed to give the Yemen war resolution, introduced by independent Senator Bernie Sanders, more momentum.

The conclusions, and the fact that CIA Director Gina Haspel didn't appear, angered some senators. "So if that briefing is not given soon it's going to be hard for me to vote for any spending bill".

Central Intelligence Agency press secretary Timothy Barrett said that no one kept Haspel away from the briefing. The CIA has the latest intelligence assessment of Khashoggi's murder.

The other four Republicans who voted against the resolution to allow a Senate vote on the issue were Sens.

U.S. President Donald Trump has thrown a wrench into talk about a coordinated censuring of Saudi Arabia by Western allies, announcing last week the United States will take no punitive measures against the Middle East kingdom. Saudi Arabia has said he had no prior knowledge of the murder. His language was blunt in a Wall Street Journal article, writing that Khashoggi's murder "has heightened the Capitol Hill caterwauling and media pile-on".

The U.S. -backed, Saudi-led military intervention was under way, and parts of Yemen were under siege by the Houthi rebels when Safa Al Ahmad traveled back to the country in 2016 to see the human toll of the war.

Last week Mr Trump described Saudi Arabia as a "steadfast partner" that had agreed to invest "a record amount of money" in the US.

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