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Saudis, authoritarian leaders inspired by Trump: Sanders

Saudi Arabia and its de facto leader, crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, are among authoritarian entities “clearly inspired” by US President Donald Trump’s totalitarian policies, says senior US Senator Bernie Sanders.

The Vermont lawmaker made the comments during a speech on authoritarian threats at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies on Tuesday.

“While this authoritarian trend certainly did not begin with Donald Trump, there’s no question that other authoritarian leaders around the world have drawn inspiration from the fact that the president of the world’s oldest and most powerful democracy is shattering democratic norms, is viciously attacking an independent media and an independent judiciary, and is scapegoating the weakest and most vulnerable members of our society,” he said.

The independent senator exemplified Saudi Arabia as “a country clearly inspired by Trump.”

Sanders further cited the recent disappearance of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Khashoggi was last seen late last week after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, where Turkish officials insist that he was killed inside the facility, an allegation denied by Saudi officials.

“If this is true, if the Saudi regime murdered a journalist critic in their own consulate, there must be accountability, and there must be an unequivocal condemnation by the United States,” Sanders said. “But it seems clear that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman feels emboldened by the Trump administration’s unquestioning support.”

He also noted that “it’s hard to imagine” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could be “aggressively undermining the longstanding goal of a two-state solution” if he did not enjoy the New York billionaire’s support.

Hailed as a “great friend to the Jewish people” by the Israeli premier, President Trump has been showing unprecedented support for Tel Aviv’s expansive policies and destroyed the so-called two-state solution.

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