Politifact

Bernie Sanders is right: Saudi Arabia is more focused on the conflict in Yemen than fighting ISIS

Bernie Sanders delivered his long-awaited speech on democratic socialism last week, also outlining his plan for fighting ISIS.

Sanders called for a broad international coalition but stressed that Muslim nations must shoulder the fight, which he called “a struggle for the soul of Islam.” So far, he said, wealthy and powerful countries in the region like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates have done very little.

“Saudi Arabia, turns out, has the third-largest defense budget in the world,” Sanders said on Nov. 19. “Yet instead of fighting ISIS they have focused more on a campaign to oust Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.”

Sanders is correct that Saudi Arabia’s military budget is the third largest in the world. But is he also right that the Saudis aren’t prioritizing ISIS? In a word, yes.

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