Washington, DC Today, Congressman Gregory W. Meeks (D-NY), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, alongside five Committee Chairpersons called on President Biden to further recalibrate the relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia, in light of reports that President Biden is considering a visit to the Kingdom in the coming months, and urged the president to forcefully advocate for a more balanced bilateral relationship that benefits everyday Americans and reaffirms long-standing American values. 

The letter was signed by Adam Schiff (D-CA), Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), Chairwoman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, Adam Smith (D-WA), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, and Stephen F. Lynch (D-MA), Chair of the National Security Subcommittee of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform. 

“The Kingdom has long been an important U.S. partner, and we seek to further cooperate with it on regional, counterterrorism, energy, and other priorities. However, since 2015 its leadership has repeatedly acted in ways at odds with U.S. policy and values. Of most immediate relevance, Saudi Arabia’s refusal to stabilize global energy markets is helping bankroll Vladimir Putin’s war crimes in Ukraine, while inflicting economic pain on everyday Americans. Additionally, the prolonged Saudi-led war in Yemen has not reduced Iran’s malign influence, but instead created an unprecedented humanitarian disaster that will fuel regional instability. Finally, recent mass executions and Saudi pressure on Turkey to cease the trial for Jamal Khashoggi’s brutal murder bely claims that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is pursuing genuine reforms,” the members wrote. 

Specifically, the Committee Chairs called on President Biden to: 

  • Secure further Saudi commitments to stabilize global energy markets and definitively abandon its Trump-era oil production deal with Russia.   

  • Continue the suspension of offensive U.S. military support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen while pressing for the initiation of multi-party peace talks. 

  • Call for an end to the Kingdom’s arbitrary detention of human rights defenders, as well as other human rights abuses.  

  • Reiterate the U.S. demand for accountability, in line with established international legal standards, for the murder of journalist and American legal resident Jamal Khashoggi. 

  • Hold firm to the longstanding U.S. policy of requiring robust safeguards for any civil nuclear cooperation. 

  • Underscore the risks of greater Saudi strategic cooperation with China. 

“We stand ready to work with you on advancing this agenda and request that senior members of your national security team brief Congress on these issues ahead of and following your trip,” the members added. “Pursuing these straightforward measures would achieve your goal of a recalibrated U.S.-Saudi relationship that serves both U.S. interests and values.” 

Click here to read the letter or read the full text below: 

Dear Mr. President: 

We write to share our views on the American relationship with Saudi Arabia, and how our engagement should be aimed at advancing your goal of recalibrating that relationship to serve America’s national interests. 

The Kingdom has long been an important U.S. partner, and we seek to further cooperate with it on regional, counterterrorism, energy, and other priorities. However, since 2015 its leadership has repeatedly acted in ways at odds with U.S. policy and values. Of most immediate relevance, Saudi Arabia’s refusal to stabilize global energy markets is helping bankroll Vladimir Putin’s war crimes in Ukraine, while inflicting economic pain on everyday Americans. Additionally, the prolonged Saudi-led war in Yemen has not reduced Iran’s malign influence, but instead created an unprecedented humanitarian disaster that will fuel regional instability. Finally, recent mass executions and Saudi pressure on Turkey to cease the trial for Jamal Khashoggi’s brutal murder bely claims that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is pursuing genuine reforms. 

Until Saudi Arabia shows signs of charting a different course, and in light of deliberations regarding a potential visit to the Kingdom during which you may have an opportunity to meet with King Salman and other regional heads of state, we encourage you to redouble your efforts to recalibrate the U.S.-Saudi relationship.  Among the issues we recommend you prioritize are: 

  • Securing further Saudi commitments to stabilize global energy markets and definitively abandon its Trump-era oil production deal with Russia.  The June 2 OPEC+ announcement was a positive measure to address volatility. Further clarity on and commitments for future production, as well as breaking from the quota arrangement with Russia, would represent additional important steps forward. 

  • Continuing the suspension of offensive U.S. military support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen while pressing for the initiation of multi-party peace talks.  U.S. diplomacy helped secure the recent truce — the first major cessation of hostilities since President Obama’s visit to Riyadh in 2016.  The Saudis and Houthis must now seize the opportunity created by the leadership transition in Yemen to pursue a lasting ceasefire and political settlement. A settlement offers the best means for securing Saudi Arabia’s border and blunting the expansion of Iranian influence. 

  • Ending the Kingdom’s arbitrary detention of human rights defenders, as well as other human rights abuses. This should include releasing Mohammed al-Rabea and Abdulrahman al-Sadhan, both of whom were jailed for exercising their right to peaceful expression.  The Kingdom also must lift the travel bans and other restrictions on activists and their families, to include women’s rights advocate Loujain al-Halthloul and blogger Raif Badawi, as well as Aziza al-Youssef, Bader al-Ibrahim, and Salah al-Haidar. We further encourage you to renew US. demands for an end to Saudi Arabia’s abusive and arbitrary detention practices, as well as its use of mass executions, particularly for individuals who did not have access to a fair trial, such as the 81 people executed in March 2022. 

  • Reiterating the U.S. demand for accountability, in line with established international legal standards, for the murder of journalist and American legal resident Jamal Khashoggi.  The highest levels of the Saudi government, including Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, are culpable in the killing of Mr. Khashoggi, and there is no escaping that stark truth laid bare in the U.S. Intelligence Community’s 2021 public assessment. We must continue to insist on justice for this horrific crime. 

  • Holding firm to the longstanding U.S. policy of requiring robust safeguards for any civil nuclear cooperation.  We believe that any civil nuclear cooperation agreement with the Kingdom must not undermine the “gold standard” contained in the U.S.-United Arab Emirates (UAE) agreement.  We further expect that Saudi Arabia will ratify and adhere to the higher standards of transparency required by the Additional Protocol. 

  • Underscoring the risks of greater strategic cooperation with China.  Public reports indicate that Saudi Arabia is pursuing greater strategic cooperation with China, including further ballistic missile acquisitions. We urge you to make clear that partnership with China in ways that undermine U.S. national security interests will have a lasting negative impact on the U.S.-Saudi relationship.   

We stand ready to work with you on advancing this agenda and request that senior members of your national security team brief Congress on these issues ahead of and following your trip.  Pursuing these straightforward measures would achieve your goal of a recalibrated U.S.-Saudi relationship that serves both U.S. interests and values. 

Sincerely,  

Members of Congress