Senators challenged US President Donald Trump's nominee to the post of US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia to take a tough line with the United Kingdom on human rights and other abuses.
Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee Jim Risch warned while Saudi Arabia was a strategically important ally, the alliance must be reconciled with American values.
As Trump's nominated, retired four-star General John Abizaid defended the US-Saudi relations Senators accused the kingdom of a litany of wrongdoing and criticized Saudi Arabia's prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) as "full gangster".
They also condemned the behavior of the Kingdom in the civil war in Yemen, heavy-handed diplomacy and imprisonment and torturing their critics, including several women's rights activists. They also addressed the murder of American-based Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Abizaid's hearing comes two days after the senators received a briefing from administrative officials at Khashoggi's killing. Senators say they think the Saudi prince ordered the killing.
If confirmed, Abizaid promised to push for more information on the Khashoggi killing and have "powerful discussions" with Riyadh on other human rights violations.
"In the long run, we need a strong and mature partnership with Saudi Arabia," Abizaid told the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee. "It is in our interests to ensure that the relationship is good."
Khashoggi, a Washington Post Columnist and Critics of the Riyadh Government, killed at the Saudi Consulate in Turkey on October 2. His death broke dissatisfaction in Washington over the human rights record of Saudi Arabia.
Last month, the House of Representatives approved a resolution to end US support for the Saudi Arabian coalition, an important punishment of Riyadh.
Abizaid said the Trump administration strongly believes that US support should continue.
"Saudi Arabia has engaged in actions that are simply not acceptable," Risch said. who held two classified talks over the past two weeks for the panel to discuss Saudi Arabia.
Senator Bob Menendez, Committee of the Regions Appeal Democrat, recognized the strategic importance of Saudi bands, among threats from Iran.
"But we cannot let these interests blind us to our values or to our long-term interests in stability," Menendez said. "Saudi Arabia is an important strategic partner for the fight against terrorism, which confronts Iran."
Senator Marco Rubio, a republican in Florida, said that Saudi Arabia was America's most difficult ally.
"They are also our most difficult partner right now because it almost asks us to agree to be silent on grotesque human rights violations, both at home and abroad, and their crown prince does not make it easier," Rubio says. "Ruthless" and "Ruthless"
As the Hearing continued, Rubio said MBS had gone "full gangster", a statement repeated by Senator Ron Johnson. "He is ruthless, he is ruthless, he has a penchant for escalation, to take high risks, confronting in his foreign policy approach and I believe increasingly willing to test the limits of what he can get away with the US, Rubio says.
Menendez said senators were discussing whether to introduce new sanctions against Saudi Arabia because of the killing of Khashoggi and the failure of the Trump administration to submit a report under the Global Magnitsky Act, a US law that provides for human rights violations.
"The bottom line is the administration is contrary to the law," Menendez told Al Jazeera outside the hearing.
A bipartisan group of senators sent a letter to Trump on October 1
US intelligence agencies have determined MBS to kill, according to Senators.
"The law is very clear. The administration must give us, within 120 days after letters sent by me and former president Corker to the president to decide on the crown prince. And now the question is whether the Senate must act with its own set sanctions, Menendez said.
Senators became frustrated when US Treasury officials did not offer any new information on Khashoggi during a closed door inspection on Monday.
The United States has not had an ambassador to Saudi Arabia since Trump became president in January 2017.  Abiza ID, which led the US Central Command during the Iraq War, is expected to easily win Senate Confirmation.
With further reporting by William Roberts of the Washington, DC