Source National Interest

WASHINGTON, US: Senate Resolution 109, drafted by Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) and co-sponsored by Senators Bernie Sanders (D-VT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), and Mike Lee (R-UT), needs to be permanently retired. The resolution represents the latest attempt in Congress to reform relations with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and terminate U.S. involvement in Yemen. However, the continual re-packaging of how to reform relations and terminate involvement is a pointless endeavor that portends another disastrous Congressional foreign policy initiative in the Middle East.  
Upon its adoption, the resolution requests information about Saudi Arabia’s human rights practices from the Secretary of State. If the requested information demonstrates that the kingdom violates human rights (an inevitable outcome), the United States must deny security assistance. The denial of security assistance would entail terminating U.S. assistance of the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen.
Senators Murphy, Sanders, Warren, Durbin, and Lee cannot see the forest for the trees in the Middle East. Their obsession with punishing Saudi Arabia and rectifying a minor foreign policy issue (U.S. support for the Saudi intervention in Yemen) blinds them to larger, more pressing U.S. foreign policy concerns and objectives. Ending U.S. support for the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen elevates the possibility of doomsday scenarios. It antagonizes volatile dynamics in the Middle East by incentivizing the proliferation of nuclear capabilities. The proliferation of nuclear capabilities in the Middle East threatens U.S. security, undermines U.S. interests, destabilizes the region, and places the international economy on the precipice of ruin.
The connection between supporting the kingdom in Yemen and the proliferation of nuclear capabilities dates back to 2015 when President Obama was in the final stages of negotiating the Joint Cooperation Plan of Action (JCPOA), more commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal.
The Obama administration’s attempt to reach a settlement on Iran’s nuclear ambitions heightened fears of abandonment and increased a sense of vulnerability in Riyadh. Saudi Arabia saw the JCPOA as a de facto rapprochement between Iran and the United States and, thus, the betrayal of a seventy-eight-year-old ally. Why? Saudi Arabia believes the Islamic regime in Iran is an existential threat to the kingdom and a destabilizing regional force. The Iranian regime’s revolutionary ideology and pursuit of nuclear capabilities—uranium enrichment infrastructure— are promises of that hazard; support for militias that destabilize the region are its manifestations.
In the months leading up to the signing of the JCPOA, Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries threatened to match the nuclear enrichment capabilities provided to Iran by the proposed deal. To secure the JCPOA while forestalling the spread of nuclear capabilities and assuaging Saudi Arabia’s concerns, President Obama committed to continuing to support and defend Saudi Arabia. According to Obama, “The protection that we provide as [the Gulf countries’] partner is a far greater deterrent that they could ever hope to achieve by developing their own nuclear stockpile.”
Limited American participation in the Saudi-led intervention in the Yemeni civil war is one aspect of that commitment to protect the kingdom. Saudi Arabia believes its intervention is critical to thwarting the Iranian threat on its southern border. The Houthis, an Iran-funded and inspired militia, seek to assert their authority in Yemen. The periodic drone and missile strikes on Saudi Arabia by the Houthis continue to validate the kingdom’s fears and rationale for using military force to crush the militia.     
The geopolitical dynamics in the Gulf demonstrate that the passage of Resolution 109 would engender considerable fallout.
Withdrawing the U.S. commitment to protection in Yemen sows further distrust in the kingdom. Is the United States taking Saudi security seriously? If Washington were to go back on its word regarding Yemen, would it keep it on other matters Riyadh considers critical to its security?
If America’s commitment to the kingdom’s security is diminished, the Saudis will inevitably seek alternative measures to protect themselves. One possibility is the pursuit of nuclear capabilities. As demonstrated by the Obama statement, the kingdom perceives nuclear capabilities as a means to deter the Iranian threat.  
The Saudi pursuit of nuclear capabilities would ignite a race toward nuclear proliferation in the Gulf. Saudi actions will dash the Senators’ hopes of resurrecting the JCPOA. Iran will have no incentive to re-enter an agreement that restrains its nuclear aspirations but not those of its rival. Other Arab countries could follow the Saudi and Iranian example. The development of nuclear weapons could follow the acquisition of nuclear capabilities.
And then there is Israel. The Netanyahu government cannot tolerate a nuclear Iran. Israel will be compelled to strike Iranian nuclear facilities. What comes next? Possibly a regional war.    
The fallout from the passage of Resolution 109 will extend to the global markets. The proliferation of nuclear capabilities in the Gulf places the international economy on an increasingly precarious footing. As a significant source of oil and gas, the Gulf region remains a linchpin of the world’s economic well-being. A lack of reliable access to the region’s vast oil and gas reserves will be the least of U.S. worries should nuclear proliferation occur.
The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Senator Murphy’s Resolution and its co-sponsors’ attempt to reform relations and rectify a minor U.S. foreign policy issue is shortsighted. They actually further complicate a challenging geopolitical environment. Passage of the resolution would make supporters complicit as harbingers of a Middle East rife with nuclear proliferation. Therefore, Resolution 109 needs to be permanently retired.