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Rep. Ro Khanna: U.S. Should Halt Arms to Saudis over Yemen War & Oil Production Cuts

StoryOctober 31, 2022
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Democratic Congressmember Ro Khanna says Saudi Arabia should face consequences for its decision to cut oil output by 2 million barrels a day as part of the OPEC+ cartel, raising gas prices in the United States just before the midterm elections where cost-of-living issues are expected to be a major factor. He also discusses the Saudi-led war in Yemen, describing it as “one of the largest humanitarian crises in the world” that must be brought to an end. Khanna recently co-authored legislation calling on the United States to stop arms transfers to Saudi Arabia.

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to ask you about U.S.-Saudi relations. You recently co-authored legislation with Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal calling on the U.S. to stop arms transfers to Saudi in response to the kingdom’s decision to cut 2 million barrels a day of oil production at the OPEC+ meeting, thereby raising the price of gas to Russia’s advantage. In a piece for Politico that you co-authored with Senator Blumenthal, you wrote, “Simply put, America shouldn’t be providing such unlimited control of strategic defense systems to an apparent ally of our greatest enemy — nuclear bomb extortionist Vladimir Putin.” You also tweeted, “Their brutal war in Yemen and their fleecing of American consumers at the pump must have consequences.” Talk about what you’re demanding and how much support you have for this at this point. And what is happening in Yemen?

REP. RO KHANNA: Amy, as you know, for almost six years in Congress, I, along with Bernie Sanders, have been working to try to bring the war to Yemen to a close. It’s one of the largest humanitarian crises in the world, similar to the barbarism of Putin in Ukraine. It hasn’t gotten as much attention. We had a ceasefire. Now that ceasefire apparently may be falling apart. Fortunately, the United States, thanks to our passing the War Powers Resolution and this president’s action, is no longer refueling the Saudi planes that were bombing Yemen. But we still provide a tremendous amount of defense assistance to Saudi Arabia. That increased dramatically in the Trump administration. We have more joint defense arrangements with Saudi than most of our allies. And the Saudi planes wouldn’t fly if it weren’t for U.S. technicians.

So, both on the account that they have not done enough to lift the blockade, that they still are not abiding by all of the peace agreements to bring the war to an end, and, on top of that, they’re slapping Americans in the face by cutting oil supplies right when we have a crisis, Senator Blumenthal and I have said, “Let’s at least suspend the weapons sales for a year.” I believe after the midterm elections — right now the issue is politicized — but after the midterm election, even Republicans will join in this demand to hold the Saudis accountable.

AMY GOODMAN: Are you concerned about the number of former military officials, as high up as generals, that are working for Saudi Arabia right now, as exposed in a major piece — I think it was in The Washington Post?

REP. RO KHANNA: I am. You know, I have legislation, actually with a Republican, Mike Gallagher, who’s a marine from Wisconsin, saying that high-level government officials, whether they’re members of Congress, senators, generals or executive branch officials, should not be allowed to go work for foreign countries after their public service, whether that is Saudi Arabia or whether that is another country. That seems to me an inherent conflict of interest and something that does not serve our national security.

AMY GOODMAN: Before we end, I wanted to talk about the midterm elections next week. We’re days away. Congressman Khanna, you have been on the campaign trail lending support to Senate candidates Mandela Barnes in Wisconsin — he would be the first Black senator to represent Wisconsin. And you have John Fetterman in Pennsylvania who’s taking on the Trump ally, Mehmet Oz. Let’s talk about that one first, Mehmet Oz. We have a clip of him in the debate with John Fetterman. It’s pretty well known, that clip. We’re talking about John Fetterman, when asked — rather, Mehmet Oz, when asked about abortion, this is what he said.

DR. MEHMET OZ: I want women, doctors, local political leaders letting the democracy that’s always allowed our nation to thrive to put the best ideas forward so states can decide for themselves.

AMY GOODMAN: So this should be between a woman, her doctor and local elected officials. Congressmember Khanna, what were you saying on the campaign trail?

REP. RO KHANNA: Well, what Dr. Oz said was not a gaffe; that’s actually the Republican view. The Democrats view reproductive rights as human rights. We view this as a fundamental right for women. The Republicans view this as an issue that politicians should decide. It’s a fundamental difference.

I had a great rally with John Fetterman in Pittsburgh. There was a grit that he’s displaying. He’s coming back from a health adversity, much like many people in Pennsylvania who have been knocked down come back. I just saw a poll this morning in The New York Times that has him up five points. I think the momentum still is on his side, but we have to get the turnout out. And the way Pennsylvania goes really could determine the control of the Senate.

AMY GOODMAN: And what about Wisconsin with Mandela Barnes versus the grocery store magnate Ron Johnson, the current senator?

REP. RO KHANNA: You know, Mandela is the American dream. I was very proud to support him early on in the primary. And he really is the son of working-class parents, who has risen through sheer hard work. He believes in bringing manufacturing back to Wisconsin. He believes in standing up for the working and middle class. Ron Johnson has supported policies that has led to the private equity firms basically bankrupting Hufcor, led to the offshoring of manufacturing jobs, the hollowing out of Wisconsin.

AMY GOODMAN: We have five seconds.

REP. RO KHANNA: It’s a clear economic choice.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Congressmember Ro Khanna, we want to thank you for being with us, Democratic congressmember from California.

Tune in on November 8th for our three-hour election night special. We’ll be broadcasting live starting at 9 p.m. Eastern. That’s 6 p.m. Pacific. That does it for our show. Check out our job listings at I’m Amy Goodman. Thanks so much for joining us.

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