US Senator: Saudi Military Can’t Fight Way Out Of Paper Bag

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WASHINGTON — A Republi­can US senator, often an ally of President Donald Trump, has echoed the president’s derogato­ry remarks about Saudi Arabia’s military capabilities, saying the Saudi military “can’t fight [its way] out of a paper bag.”

In pointed remarks made to Fox News on Sunday, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Caro­lina, who is a hawk on Iran, said Saudi Arabia would be defeated by Iran militarily “in about a week” if it did not have the sup­port of the United States.

“Let me put it this way — I want to be very blunt with you: If it weren’t for the Unit­ed States, they’d be speaking Farsi in about a week in Saudi Arabia,” Graham said.

Earlier, President Trump had belittled Riyadh by say­ing Saudi rulers might not last “for two weeks” without the support of the US. But Trump has also taken a stubborn stance in defense of the Saudi leadership in an international scandal over the state-ordered murder of Saudi dissident Ja­mal Khashoggi. In attempting to justify that defense, Trump has partially pointed to the massive purchases of Ameri­can weapons by Riyadh.

Khashoggi was brutally killed by a 15-member hit squad inside the Saudi con­sulate in Istanbul, Turkey, on October 2.

Unlike President Trump, however, Senator Graham has turned against the Saudi lead­ership following that murder.

Citing informed sources, The Washington Post reported in mid-November that the CIA “has concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered Khashoggi’s assassination.” Trump said at the time that the CIA conclu­sion was “very premature.”

Ankara, which says it has evidence from inside the con­sulate, has said the order for the hit “came from the high­est levels of the Saudi govern­ment.” But it has said Saudi King Salman himself was not involved, giving the impres­sion that Saudi Arabia’s num­ber-two person, Mohammed, was responsible.

Saudi Arabia has at­tempted to shift the blame for Khashoggi’s murder to Mo­hammed’s underlings, includ­ing at least one of his advisers. But it has claimed that the criminality somehow stops short of reaching the crown prince himself.

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