Merkley Statement on Saudi Ambassador Nominee

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, released the following statement after voting against General John Abizaid’s nomination to serve as U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia:

“General Abizaid has a distinguished resume, and I appreciate the time he took to meet with me during his confirmation process. He is clearly knowledgeable about the region and I respect his commitment to continue serving his country.

“This administration’s deep mishandling of the relationship with Saudi Arabia is a rolling foreign policy disaster, however, and I cannot support any nominee who cannot commit to changing the policy direction. Over the last several years, Saudi Arabia has become more brazen than ever before in its malign activities on the world stage. Its brutal war in Yemen has created the biggest humanitarian crisis in the world today. The Kingdom committed a coldblooded assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a U.S. resident. It has a pattern of spiriting Saudi students out of the United States so that they can evade justice for serious crimes they commit within our borders.  

“Whether it’s because of the president’s or Jared Kushner’s hidden financial entanglements, pattern of coziness with authoritarian rulers and disregard for human rights, or simply terrible judgment, the Trump Administration has not stood up to Saudi leaders, but has instead rewarded them with smiling photo ops and ever-bigger arms deals, compromising our values and our standing in the world. We need a wholesale rethinking of how this administration relates to Saudi Arabia, and until there’s evidence it’s coming, I will not support this or other nominations covering Saudi policy.”