5 Medical Workers Reportedly Killed In Airstrikes After Syria Truce Collapses

Syrian civilians are seen in the aftermath of renewed attacks on an opposition-controlled area in Aleppo on Tuesday.

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Syrian civilians are seen in the aftermath of renewed attacks on an opposition-controlled area in Aleppo on Tuesday.

Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

At least five emergency medical workers were said to have been killed in airstrikes near the northern city of Aleppo on Tuesday, following the collapse of a fragile cease-fire in Syria.

The France-based Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations said the five were part of an emergency medical unit in Khan Touman near Aleppo. The group’s vice president, Dr. Oubaida Al Moufti, told The Associated Press that “the mobile medical team was hit while responding to an earlier airstrike targeting militants from the al-Qaida-linked Fatah al-Sham Front.”

Nine rebel fighters were also killed during the bombardment, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. It was not immediately clear who carried out the airstrikes, though U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Wednesday that “there are only two countries that have airplanes that are flying during the night or flying at all in that particular area — Russia and Syria.”

This is the second time in two days that airstrikes have killed humanitarian workers in Syria.

On Monday evening, airstrikes hit an aid convoy that was coordinated by the U.N. that was en route to an area west of Aleppo — an incident that has drawn widespread international condemnation. The attack killed 20 civilians, according to the AP.

Syrian Military Declares End To Cease-Fire; Aid Convoy Comes Under Attack

U.N. Human Rights chief Stephen O’Brian said he was “disgusted and horrified” by the news of Monday’s convoy attack, which was carrying desperately needed aid for 78,000 people. “There can be no explanation or excuse, no reason or rationale for waging war on brave and selfless humanitarian workers trying to reach their fellow citizens in desperate need of assistance,” he said in a statement.

And while it’s also not clear who carried out the attack that hit the convoy, NPR’s Alice Fordham reported that “American officials say the perpetrators could only be the Syrian air force or its Russian allies.” U.S. officials have said that “either way it held Russia responsible because under the truce deal Moscow was charged with preventing airstrikes on humanitarian deliveries,” as the AP reported.

Secretary Of State John Kerry On Syria Cease-Fire: 'What's The Alternative?'

The U.S. and Russia support different parties to the war in Syria — Russia backs the government of President Bashar Assad, while the U.S. is allied with opposition groups. The cease-fire last week was designed to lead to military cooperation between the U.S. and Russia in the fight against ISIS and a rebel group that has had ties to al-Qaida.

That kind of cooperation is less likely now. As NPR’s Michele Kelemen reported, Kerry is trying to salvage the deal with the Russians at a U.N. Security Council meeting happening today.

In remarks to the Security Council, Kerry called this a “moment of truth.” He called for immediately halting aircraft from flying in agreed-upon key areas in order to de-escalate the fighting. “If that happens, there is a chance of giving credibility back to this process,” Kerry added.

U.N. Special Envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura said that future efforts to end the violence in Syria “will and can be heavily affected if we cannot overcome the present situation with the restoration of the [U.S.-Russia] agreement … which actually gave us a lot of hope and on the basis on which we have been working even harder in order to renew the talks.”

How Did Disabilities Become a Partisan Issue?

That was not uncontroversial on its own. As David M. Perry wrote in The Atlantic, “It’s exciting to see disability issues play a role in the campaign, and gratifying to see a politician take heat for humor that offended many people. The ad, however, also plays into stereotypes about disability, revealing tensions between disability-rights activists and mainstream politicians.”

But Clinton’s focus on disability issues isn’t just a matter of electoral jockeying. It’s also in line with the direction of progressive politics as a whole. The Democratic Party has increasingly embraced the language and agenda of social justice. As my colleague Clare Foran noted back in March, Clinton herself has adopted the language of intersectionality, the idea that forms of discrimination, marginalization, and inequality should not be considered singly but as a complex, with different forms compounding one another.

This shift is not without a reaction. The Trump campaign has seized on “political correctness” as a great ill afflicting America. White, straight, male voters who lean toward Trump, and who are those least affected by discrimination, might be inclined to dismiss discussions of intersectionality as simply more political correctness. The two moves in concert produce a feedback loop: Progressives become more and more concerned about the dismissal of intersectional concerns, while that growing concern only convinces conservatives that the attention being paid to matters of race, disability, class, or gender are disproportionate and a result of political correctness.

In other words, the 2016 presidential campaign may have produced a sharpened and accelerated partisans split on disability accommodation, transforming them from a universal concern to a wedge issue, but November 8 is unlikely to mark the end of the trend or any renewed unity.

‘The sounds of the bombs will be heard in the streets’: A journal found with New York bombing suspect

Years before he was accused of becoming a terrorist, when he was just another young man getting by in New Jersey, Ahmad Khan Rahami led an undistinguished American life. He worked at his dad’s fried chicken restaurant and went to a local college and sometimes struggled with the bills.

Then something changed. Rahami’s faith in Islam seemed to grow more serious in recent years, coinciding with lengthy trips back to Afghanistan, which his family fled in the 1990s, acquaintances said. Rahami, a naturalized American citizen, grew a beard, married a woman from Pakistan, and watched jihadist martyr’s anthems on YouTube, investigators say.

In 2014, after Rahami was accused of stabbing one of his brothers in the leg, his father said he contacted the FBI with concerns that Rahami was becoming a terrorist.

“Two years [ago], I called the FBI — my son, he’s doing very bad, OK?” Mohammad R. Rahami said outside his New Jersey home Tuesday morning. “But they check it almost two months. … They say, ‘He’s not a terrorist.’ I said, ‘OK.’ 

What we know so far about New York and New Jersey bombing suspect Ahmad Khan Rahami

What we know so far about New York and New Jersey bombing suspect Ahmad Khan Rahami

Following a shootout on Monday, police captured a man they suspect of planting several bombs over the weekend in New York and New Jersey.

Ahmad Khan Rahami, a 28-year-old naturalized U.S. citizen from Afghanistan, was shot by police in Linden, N.J., and underwent surgery, officials said.


Following a shootout on Monday, police captured a man they suspect of planting several bombs over the weekend in New York and New Jersey.

Ahmad Khan Rahami, a 28-year-old naturalized U.S. citizen from Afghanistan, was shot by police in Linden, N.J., and underwent surgery, officials said.


(Matt Pearce)

The ongoing investigation into the bombings in New York and New Jersey and Rahami’s seeming radicalization has brought back familiar themes about the paths to Islamic radicalization and the government’s struggle to stop plots before they happen.

Like those responsible for the deadly bombs planted at the Boston Marathon in 2013, brothers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, Rahami had traveled overseas and had come to the attention of law enforcement before the attack.

The case raises “all the same questions” about when the suspect was radicalized and how much his time outside the U.S. had influenced him, said Rep. Adam B. Schiff of Burbank, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.

Rahami referred to the Boston Marathon bombings in a notebook he was carrying when he was arrested, Schiff added. And Rahami wrote in the notebook about late Al Qaeda plotter Anwar Awlaki, an American-born radical cleric whose online videos the Boston bombers had watched.

The recent bombings highlight the challenges the FBI and other agencies face when trying to prevent such attacks.

“I’m concerned that these kinds of attacks show no signs of letting up,” Schiff said. “There are thousands of people coming to the attention of law enforcement. We don’t have the resources to surveil all of them, nor would it be appropriate to surveil all of them.”

In Elizabeth, N.J., where Rahami lived, the arrest has unsettled residents’ sense of how much they knew their own neighbors.

“We are all in shock. It goes to show that you never really know people,” said Victor Reinoso, who manages the Wells Fargo bank branch where the Rahami family keeps their accounts. “Ahmad didn’t look like that type. He was a normal kid, in jeans and T-shirts. People didn’t think that much about them being from Afghanistan. This is a melting pot.’’

Gus Serrano, a 39-year-old immigrant from Colombia, said the Rahami family has always been friendly, and would often give neighbors free chicken at their restaurant.

“I’m afraid,” he said Tuesday. “We are in shock. It’s like we were sleeping with the enemy.”










Rahami began shopping for bomb components on eBay in June, according to a federal complaint, which charges him with four counts related to bombing a public place.

Over the next several months, Rahami bought citric acid, a circuit board, electric igniters for fireworks, and ball bearings, plus cellphones that could be used as bomb triggers, investigators said. 

Federal authorities said they have recovered a cellphone video, shot two days before the Chelsea bombing, which appears to show Rahami blowing up a cylindrical container at or near his home in Elizabeth.

The video, recovered from a phone believed to belong to a Rahami family member, shows a fuse being lighted, then an explosion.

“The video depicts the lighting of the fuse, a loud noise and flames, followed by billowing smoke and laughter,” according to an affidavit from Special Agent Peter Frederick Licata of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force. “Rahami then enters the frame and is seen picking up the cylindrical container.”

FBI agents said they found 12 of Rahami’s fingerprints on the bomb and related materials left in Chelsea. More of his fingerprints were detected in a backpack that contained another set of explosives found near the entrance to a New Jersey transit station in Elizabeth.

Agents said they also are relying on surveillance video that showed a man who appears to be Rahami walking near the scene of the Chelsea explosion, first pulling a small suitcase behind him, then walking away without the suitcase.

On Tuesday, the FBI defended its 2014 investigation of Rahami’s alleged radicalization, which was launched after Rahami was accused of stabbing his brother. (A grand jury declined to indict Rahami for the alleged stabbing.)

“In August 2014, the FBI initiated an assessment of Ahmad Rahami based upon comments made by his father after a domestic dispute that were subsequently reported to authorities,” the bureau said in a statement. “The FBI conducted internal database reviews, interagency checks, and multiple interviews, none of which revealed ties to terrorism.”

Israeli military says Palestinian teenager killed after trying to stab soldier

Israeli troops shot and killed a Palestinian teenager in the West Bank early Tuesday after he tried to stab a soldier, the latest in a recent surge in attacks, officials said.

Troops opened fire because the 16-year-old posed an “immediate threat” to a soldier stationed at a checkpoint set up at the entrance to the Bani Naim village in the southern West Bank, officials said.

The Palestinian Authority news agency Wafa identified the youth as Issa Tarayreh, a resident of the village.

Since Friday, Israeli security forces have reported at least nine knifing and car ramming attacks on targets in the West Bank and Jerusalem. Some six Palestinians and a Jordanian citizen have been killed in the violence, and several Israelis have been injured, including a 38-year-old border policewoman stabbed Monday morning outside Jerusalem’s Old City.

Benjamin Netanyahu flew to New York for a meeting with President Obama and to address the United Nations General Assembly. Before departing, Netanyahu praised Israeli soldiers and police officers for an “uncompromising struggle against brutal terrorism” and called on the international community to support Israel.

The wave of daily violence that started a year ago left more than 200 Palestinians and several dozen Israelis dead, though in the spring and summer the incidents subsided substantially.  A Palestinian public opinion survey last June found support for knife attacks on the decline and that about half of respondents believed that the wave of violence was over.

Much of the violence has taken place in and around the West Bank city of Hebron – prompting the Israeli army to send reinforcements to the region and impose a clampdown on population centers.

Israeli soldiers on Sunday started barring Palestinians between the ages of 15 and 30 from leaving Bani Naim, about four miles east of Hebron, after a pair of youths from the village on Friday drove their car into a bus stop outside the settlement of Kiryat Arba. In June, a teenager from the same village killed a 13-year-old Israeli girl from Kiryat Arba while she was sleeping in her bed.

After a knife attack Monday morning at one of the entrances to Jerusalem’s Old City that wounded two border policeman, Israeli police ordered Arab merchants in East Jerusalem to close their shops.

Palestinians view the Israeli accounts of the incidents as exaggerated to justify the use of deadly force, said Fadi Abu Sada, a West Bank reporter for the Arabic daily Al Quds al Arabi.

“Palestinians think that Israelis want this Palestinian uprising to continue for political reasons,’’ Abu Sada said, “to keep saying that Palestinians are terrorists, and that there is no partner for peace, and to relieve international pressure over expansion of Israeli settlements.’’

90 seconds: 4 stories you can't miss
RAW: Shooting of Terence Crutcher in Tulsa, Okla.

Caption RAW: Shooting of Terence Crutcher in Tulsa, Okla.

Warning, this video contains graphic content: Tulsa police released several police car and helicopter videos Monday after Terence Crutcher, an unarmed 40-year-old black man, was fatally shot by a white police officer on Friday.

Warning, this video contains graphic content: Tulsa police released several police car and helicopter videos Monday after Terence Crutcher, an unarmed 40-year-old black man, was fatally shot by a white police officer on Friday.

Fast-food chains failed antibiotics policy and practice report

Caption Fast-food chains failed antibiotics policy and practice report

KFC, Olive Garden, and Starbucks received an F rating, while Panera and Chipotle were the only two restaurants to score A ratings.

KFC, Olive Garden, and Starbucks received an F rating, while Panera and Chipotle were the only two restaurants to score A ratings.

Vigil for Carlos Segovia

Caption Vigil for Carlos Segovia

Hundreds attend a vigil Tuesday for Carlos Segovia, 19, a Marine who was shot while visiting friends and family in South Los Angeles.

Hundreds attend a vigil Tuesday for Carlos Segovia, 19, a Marine who was shot while visiting friends and family in South Los Angeles.

LAUSD considering a later start for school year

Caption LAUSD considering a later start for school year

LAUSD will consider shifting from a mid-August start to after the Labor Day holiday. The school year would end in the latter part of June rather than early in that month.

LAUSD will consider shifting from a mid-August start to after the Labor Day holiday. The school year would end in the latter part of June rather than early in that month.

Mitnick is a special correspondent.


U.N. suspends aid deliveries to Syria after deadly attack on humanitarian convoy

Vladimir Putin is the man to watch at the UN as he deepens Russia’s role in the Middle East

In China, some people eat dogs; others have them as pets. Now an upcoming dog show is causing controversy

Hedge fund manager Leon Cooperman and firm Omega Advisors say SEC charges of insider trading are ‘without merit’

Billionaire Leon Cooperman and his Omega Advisors hedge fund were charged Wednesday with insider trading, the Securities and Exchange Commission announced.

The SEC accused Cooperman of buying into Atlas Pipeline Partners ahead of a deal, using his status as one of its largest shareholders to acquire nonpublic information about an upcoming transaction.

“We allege that hedge fund manager Cooperman, who as a large APL shareholder obtained access to confidential corporate information, abused that access by trading on this information,” said Andrew J. Ceresney, director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement. “By doing so, he allegedly undermined the public confidence in the securities markets and took advantage of other investors who did not have this information.”

In a statement to CNBC, Cooperman said the charges are “without merit” and he plans to fight them.

According to the civil complaint, 73-year-old Cooperman generated illegal profits in 2010 after an unnamed Atlas Pipeline Partners executive provided him confidential information. When Atlas struck a deal to sell its Elk City, Oklahoma, operating facilities, its shares’ value increased by more than 30 percent.

Why are cops OK with killing black people? Because American history teaches that we aren’t fully human

Last April Terrill Thomas, a 38-year-old inmate in the Milwaukee County Jail suffering from severe mental illness, died of “profound dehydration.” He spent his last days pleading — begging — for something to drink, after the water in his cell was shut off. Corrections officers in the jail had no problem torturing him, watching him die slowly and painfully because they did not see him as human. This week Thomas’ death was ruled to be a homicide.

* * *

It was our possession. The ball was in my hands and the score was 15-up. The game went straight to 16 because Black Rod had winners. We were 12 years old and eager to play against Rod’s 16-year-old friends. The game was ours: I just had to toss the ball down to Al in the post because he was stronger than everybody else. He could easily turn his back on a defender and push him under the rack for the easy layup.

The play danced around in my head as I checked the rock­­ — and then a mix of cops, uniformed and plainclothes, invaded the court from all four entrances, making all of us lie down on the ground face first. With guns drawn on us kids, they found joy watching our noses brush concrete as they wasted our time looking for a robbery suspect. Or so they said.

Sweeps like this would continue to happen throughout my childhood. Plenty of white shirts and sneakers got ruined, along with my respect for police officers, from repeatedly being forced to lie on the ground. Those cops didn’t care about our respect because they didn’t see us as humans.

* * *

On Tuesday the Tulsa Police Department released a video of police officers killing Terence Crutcher with apparent carelessness and in cold blood. His car stalled. He exited the vehicle for assistance, as most people in a stalled car would do, and lost his life for that. As requested, Crutcher had his hands up and Officer Betty Shelby still shot him.

When was the last time a white person was gunned down for needing vehicular assistance?

He was guilty of being black and didn’t need a trial to prove that. Black skin is a crime and Crutcher’s killer had no problem pulling the trigger because she didn’t see him as human.

* * *

Unk-a-Bunk, or Bunk for short, used to scream suras from the Quran at the top of his lungs on the corner of Rutland Avenue. He’d pace up and down the block all day long, having an intense conversation with himself that never ended, unless he unofficially invited us to his pop-up praise sessions. One day police flooded the corner in the middle of one of Bunk’s sermons.

“Shut the fuck up! Sit your ass down!” a laughing officer said. I’m guessing Bunk’s praises interrupted his joke. That cop had been through the neighborhood plenty of times; he was a regular. He had to know that Bunk had some sort of mental illness.

“Boy, shut the fuck up!” the cop yelled again. Why Bunk sung to Allah, the officer whaled on his head with his club until he was speechless.

“Call an ambo and get this piece of shit to the hospital,” said the officer, still laughing. Laughing was an easy task for him, even while a bleeding man with a disability, whom he easily could have killed, was stretched out right in front of him — because that cop didn’t see Bunk as human.

* * *

Keith Lamont Scott, 43, a disabled man who had a wife and seven children was gunned down by police on Tuesday night in Charlotte, North Carolina. Cops were serving an arrest warrant on another person and magically killed an innocent black man who was reportedly reading a book while waiting for his son. Brentley Vinson, the killer in question, is a black officer but it doesn’t matter. Oppressing black people is part of his job.

Many black cops share the same mentality as racist white cops. As soon as they put on the badge, they develop that perspective embodied by Samuel L. Jackson in “Django Unchained.” ­The dehumanization sets in and black skin becomes illegal. Cops have to trick themselves into believing that black people aren’t human because it’s a proven system and one of the most effective tools in administering oppression. You can’t just rape, kill and enslave people. But if they aren’t people — and if they are incapable of reason, or of grief, as Thomas Jefferson suggested — then you can do as you please.

* * *

It seems like there’s a new hashtag, a new video and another innocent black victim being murdered by police officers every day. So much so that global threats feel like an illusion. Talk to a black person in a predominantly black neighborhood about al-Qaida or ISIS or what’s happening in Syria. They’ll look at you with the same twisted face Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson made when asked about Aleppo. We don’t know!

Well, we do know, but it’s too hard for us to focus on the global terrorists when domestic terrorists pin badges to their blue uniforms, call themselves cops and patrol our neighborhoods every day with a license to kill. I don’t know people with hero-cop stories. Who do they model these Bruce Willis characters after?

My cop stories include murder, extortion, harassment, brutality and disrespect on every level, and the bulk of African-Americans feel the same way. We know that police officers don’t adhere to any type of moral code when dealing with black people. Dehumanizing us allows them to function. What can we do?

We march, sing, disrupt and protest for justice in a country that fails to convict cops, even in cases with piles and piles of evidence: Consider Eric Garner of Staten Island, murdered on video by an officer who used an illegal chokehold. He clearly stated that he couldn’t breathe. But to Officer Daniel Pantaleo, the cowardly killer who continues to receive pay increases, Garner, like Thomas, Crutcher and the rest of us, wasn’t human.

Listen to Leonard Cohen’s New Eerie Ballad ‘You Want It Darker’

The masterful Leonard Cohen, who turns 82 today, is bringing us along on a journey into darkness with the new single from his upcoming album. “You Want It Darker” is a moody, atmospheric chant of a song, like a depressed hymn version of the “Monster Mash.” Cohen growls at an almost sub-sonic level over haunting hums (brought to you by the voices of a Canadian synagogue’s cantor and choir) and an eerie organ. It’s a hypnotic Halloween-season ballad that actually deserves to be played at midnight.

As usual, there’s sad poetry to be found in Cohen’s subtle delivery: “There’s a lover in the story / But the story’s still the same / There’s a lullaby for suffering / And a paradox to blame,” he croons. “You want it darker, we kill the flame.”

The new album, out Oct. 21, will be his 14th studio release. It was produced by his son, Adam Cohen, and if “You Want It Darker” is any indication, it will be a soulful addition to his already-stacked oeuvre.

Play the song in the video above.

Peru’s president calls on Latin American leaders to put pressure on Venezuela

Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski used his time on the podium at the United Nations General Assembly to plea with his fellow Latin American leaders to help out with Venezuela’s crippling economic crisis and put pressure his Venezuelan counterpart, Nicolás Maduro.

Kuczynski cited the widespread shortages of food, medicine and basic supplies in Venezuela and called on Maduro to respect human rights and a democratic political process.

Besides shortages, Venezuela faces widespread unrest over Maduro’s rule and opposition leaders are awaiting a decision by the national election board on the next stage of a possible referendum on his socialist rule.

“It is unavoidable that I mention our concern for the very critical political, economic and social situation that our friendly nation of Venezuela is experiencing,” Kuczynski said, according to Reuters. “Full-fledged democracy requires absolute respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as due process. It also requires the full guarantee of the respect of the separation of powers and checks and balances.”

The 77-year-old Peruvian leaders address drew strong criticism from Venezuela’s representative to the United Nations, Rafael Ramírez, who called Kuczynski’s comments “a gratuitous attack.”

“It was an unfortunate speech that shows that certain countries continue to interfere in our internal affairs,” Ramírez said.

Kuczynski is seen by many as the political polar opposite of Maduro, who spent time as a bus driver before moving up in the ranks of government under late Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chávez. Kuczynski, on the other hand, spent years working on Wall Street in investment funds and even acquired U.S. citizenship before renouncing it to run for president.

In a year that saw Latin American politics shift sharply to the right, Kuczynski came to power in 2016 along with fellow free-market advocates like Mauricio Macri in Argentina and Brazil’s new president Michel Temer. The sea change has soured the socialist government of Venezuela’s standing among its Latin American neighbors.

Citing its violation of human rights and its failure to comply with the organization’s internal rules, a number of members countries form the Mercosur trade bloc have also questioned Venezuela’s right to exercise the rotating presidency of the group.

Venezuela has staunchly defended their right to hold the post.

“The ball is in their court. We will continue defending the legality, working for Mercosur,” Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodríguez said last week after the four other member states – Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay – agreed that Venezuela may not exercise the bloc’s presidency and warned of its possible suspension.

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Senate Permits $1.15 Billion Arms Sale To Saudi Arabia

WASHINGTON ― The Senate has rejected a measure that would have blocked a $1.15 billion weapons transfer to Saudi Arabia, disappointing critics of the Kingdom and tacitly endorsing President Barack Obama’s policy of record arms deals to the Saudis and other U.S. partners in the troubled Middle East.

A handful of lawmakers from both parties backed the bill, describing it as a way to begin putting necessary limits on the U.S.-Saudi alliance. The bill’s supporters say the Kingdom has threatened American interests by committing war crimes in its brutal U.S.-backed campaign to restore the government in Yemen, and by spreading a radical strain of Islam that some terror groups, like al Qaeda and the self-described Islamic State, have partially co-opted.

Another arms deal would solidify the impression that the U.S. is tied to the worst Saudi excesses, according to the measure’s co-author, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.).

“There is a U.S. imprint on every civilian death inside Yemen, which is radicalizing the people of this country against the United States,” Murphy said.

But the bill failed 71-27 on Wednesday after its opponents argued that it would be interpreted as a dangerous, disloyal message to an ally that has embraced U.S. policy at great cost to itself.

“Were this resolution of disapproval ever to be adopted, it would further convince the world that the United States is retreating, not only from its commitments, but also as a guarantor of the international order we worked to create after the Second World War,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said.

The vote appears to mark the end of a spat that began in August, when the Obama administration informed lawmakers that despite the growing controversy over Yemen, it had approved another weapons sale to the Saudis.

Members who had been raising the Yemen issue then began to try to kill the deal.

Others on the Hill argued that Saudi Arabia and other U.S. partners in the Persian Gulf need to arm themselves against an increasingly aggressive Iran. Iran has supported Houthi forces in Yemen that ousted a pro-Saudi government last year. It’s also used its allies to expand its influence and weaken Saudi proxies elsewhere, particularly in Lebanon and Syria.

On Wednesday, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, suggested that this is not the right time or the right way to begin a broad conversation about U.S.-Saudi relations.

“If militias were attacking our borders and launching missiles into our territory and our friends refused to help us defend ourselves, we would certainly question the value of that friendship,” McCain said. “This is why the sale is more important than just a sale. It is a message.”

Murphy and others skeptical of Saudi Arabia ― like resolution co-sponsors Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Al Franken (D-Minn.), and the supporters of the equivalent measure in the House, Reps. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) and Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) ― aren’t likely to drop the issue.

“I knew from the beginning that this was not becoming law,” Murphy told Politico. “My point here is to raise a discussion about the war in Yemen and Saudi behavior in the region that isn’t happening.”

The fact that public criticism of U.S.-Saudi relations has become so popular has the Saudis worried about how much they can count on traditional support from Washington. The Kingdom has responded by bolstering its charm offensive among “thought leaders” in the U.S. and pumping up nationalism at home ― suggests that it might actually become more aggressive in response to international condemnation because it feels isolated and betrayed.

Other recent news from the Hill is adding to the Saudis’ anxieties. The House has approved a bill that would allow sovereign governments to be sued in the U.S. over allegations of terror. That measure was championed by some families of victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks who believe Saudi Arabia had a role in those events, even though years of investigations by the U.S. government have found no evidence for that claim.

Obama plans to veto this measure, with the White House citing concerns for the security of U.S. personnel abroad. Administration sources argue that other governments would pass similar laws that would open up America to suits and fraught, as well as potentially unfair processes of discovery and trial. They also note that the legislation would affect all countries, not just the Kingdom. European Union countries, for example, strongly oppose the bill as well, arguing that sovereign immunity is essential to foreign policy and international law.

Still, Congress could override the veto ― which lawmakers appear to be seriously considering, presumably in part because siding with Sept. 11 families would likely bolster their political prospects in an election year.