Trump Faces Showdown With Congress Over Saudi Arms Deal
May 31, 2017
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com & Ben Kentish / The Independent
Donald Trump has been bragging about his massive $350 billion Saudi Arabia arms deal,but a wary Congress may not agree to accept it, especially given complaints from the United Nations and a number of human rights organizations that have documented a series of deadly Saudi airstrikes in Yemen -- on civilian targets including hospitals, markets, schools and a large funeral.
Trump Faces Showdown With
Congress Over Saudi Arms Deal
Mounting Concerns Over Saudi Arabia's Human Rights Record
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(May 28, 2017) -- President Trump has been bragging about the massive Saudi Arabia arms deal since he got back from last week's overseas trip, with a contract in hand for $110 billion in immediate sales, and in excess of $350 billion over the decade. First he's going to have to fight Congress, however.
The ever-worsening humanitarian crisis in Saudi-invaded Yemen, and the very real concerns that the US supply of arms is being seen international as tacit involvement have led to a minority of figures in Congress, but a growing one, opposing previous arms deals.
This time, resolutions are already in the works in both the House and Senate, with an eye toward blocking parts of the sale that are particularly related to the Yemen War. Growing [outrage] from human rights groups and skepticism about making the Saudis, with their sketchy human rights record, recipients of a record US arms sale, are likely to add to the pressure to vote against the sale.
The Senate resolution, coauthored by Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY), Chris Murphy (D-CT), and Al Franken (D-MN) aims to forbid the provision of bombs to the Saudis and service by US companies on certain Saudi warplanes. The House version, from Reps. Ted Lieu (D-CA) and Ted Yoho (R-FL) aims to block the sale of guided munitions to the Saudis, the kind that President Obama had previously frozen sales of at the end of his term in office.
ACTION: Those wishing to contact their Senators in support of Sens. Paul, Murphy, and Franken's resolution can find contact information here. Those wishing to support Reps. Lieu and Yoho can find contact information for their Representative here.
US Politicians Challenge Donald Trump's
Multi-billion Dollar Saudi Arabian Arms Deal
Ben Kentish / The Independent
(May 27, 2017) -- Donald Trump's multi-billion dollar arms deal with Saudi Arabia could be held up by US politicians seeking to scrutinise its contents.
Members of both the US president's Republican Party and rival Democrats in both Congress and the Senate are hoping to block the sale of the weapons and equipment.
Mr. Trump signed the $110 billion deal during a recent visit to Saudi Arabia.
"This package demonstrates, in the clearest terms possible, the United States' commitment to our partnership with Saudi Arabia and our Gulf partners, while also expanding opportunities for American companies in the region, and supporting tens of thousands of new jobs in the US defence industrial base," a White House statement said shortly afterwards.
But In a letter to the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Congressmen Ted Lieu, a Democrat and Republican Ted Yoho urged their colleagues to reconsider the sale of precision guided munitions (PGMs) to the oil rich Middle Eastern Kingdom.
They pointed out that former president Barack Obama's administration had halted a planned sale of of PGM's to Saudi Arabia in December, "due to concerns over the widespread civilian casualties in Yemen" and "significant deficiencies" in the Royal Saudi Arabian Air Force's (RSAF) targeting capabilities".
They said: "This decision was the result of an internal review launched after the United Nations and a number of human rights organisations documented a series of RSAF airstrikes on civilian targets including hospitals, markets, schools and a large funeral."
They added that in March, The State Department had "reversed this policy without providing any justification for what had changed in its assessment."
As a result they said it was incumbent of the committee to "exercise its oversight powers and to ask tough questions" of Mr. Trump's administration.
In the Senate meanwhile, Senator's Chris Murphy, Al Franken and Rand Paul introduced a joint resolution of disapproval for the deal.
Under a provision of the Arms Export Control Act, they hope to block the sale of weapons and equipment to the Royal Saudi Air Force, although it represents only a portion of the total package.
However, they will have to wait for over a week before bringing their measure to the floor of the Senate.
Other Congressional leaders slammed the deal on account of Saudi Arabia's's human rights violations and export of extremist ideologies.
Senator Patrick Leahy, the ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, accused Trump of kowtowing to "one of the world's wealthiest and repressive regimes."
Healso accused the Saudi royal family of "support for extremism that breeds terrorism" and "gross mistreatment of its own citizens."
Human rights organisations have also criticised the deal.
Shortly after it was signed Amnesty International accused the President of a "glaring omission" of human rights on the leaders' agenda, and called for the US to stop selling arms to the Saudis to prevent the nation's violation of international law via air strikes in Yemen and killing civilians.
Jeff Abramson of the Arms Control Association also cited the numerous cases of Saudi airstrikes against civilians in Yemen, telling Foreign Policy magazine: "The Saudis have not proven to be responsible in their use of American weapons."
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