senator's skepticism

Murphy ‘skeptical’ of potential U.S.-Saudi defense pact

‘I would need to be convinced that it is in our national security interest to commit U.S. blood to a treaty with Saudi Arabia,’ Murphy said

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Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) speaks during a news conference following the weekly Senate Democratic policy luncheon meeting at the U.S. Capitol Building on September 19, 2023, in Washington, DC.

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Middle East subcommittee and one of the most vocal critics in the Senate of Saudi Arabia, expressed concerns on Tuesday about a potential U.S.-Saudi mutual defense pact that’s being discussed as part of the administration’s efforts to broker a trilateral deal among the U.S., Israel and Saudi Arabia.

“Am I skeptical about the United States committing itself to defend Saudi Arabia under this reckless leadership? Of course,” Murphy told reporters. “So I would need to be convinced that it is in our national security interest to commit U.S. blood to a treaty with Saudi Arabia.”

Murphy noted that Saudi Arabia would be the only non-democracy with a U.S. defense treaty, and said, “there’s a reason why we generally only sign up countries for defense treaties with the United States who share our values.”

At the same time, Murphy said that the potential deal has “a lot of moving parts” and “I don’t think you can talk about one aspect of this deal in isolation without understanding what the other components are.”

He said he’s spoken “extensively” to the administration about “what I think would constitute a good deal, and what would be a bad deal for the United States,” but declined to elaborate, when pressed by Jewish Insider.

Separately, on Monday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who has offered to help rally support for a potential deal among Republicans, responded on social media to a report in a Saudi-owned newspaper that Saudi Arabia was suspending talks because the Israeli government would not agree to concessions to the Palestinians.

“It is understood there will have to be some relief for the Palestinian people as part of this agreement,” Graham said. “However, I hope it is equally understood that Israel’s effort to help the Palestinians cannot jeopardize their own security.”

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