Saudi arms deal backed by United States senators

Posted September 30, 2016

The US Senate voted to allow the $1.15bn sale of military equipment - including tanks and armoured vehicles - to Saudi Arabia amid the country's ongoing conflict with Yemen.

The Senate is due to vote on the measure on Wednesday. When Republican Sens. Bob Corker of Tennessee and Lindsey Graham of SC began expressing their qualms with the legislation and suggesting that a veto override should be held off until the end of the year, the families fired back, saying the Republicans are asking "far more than the families and survivors should ever be asked to accept". The House recently followed suit with its own bipartisan proposal, backed by Reps.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., also supports the proposed sale.

However, Wednesday's senate vote paved the way for the sale, approved by the state department and announced by the Pentagon last month, of up to 153 M1A2 Abrams tanks produced by aerospace and defence company General Dynamics.

Senator Rand Paul forced a vote on the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia today. "[The resolution's passage would] send a signal to the radical regime in Tehran that we're going to roll back supporting our allies, and do nothing about [it's] provocative behavior, which would be a mistake for the ages".

Amnesty International said in a statement Monday that a USA -made bomb was used in a Saudi airstrike on a Doctors Without Borders hospital in northern Yemen that killed 11 and injured 19. Out of the 8,600 airstrikes launched to date, more than 3,000 were mis-targeted. Numerous U.S. diplomats and experts on Yemen, however, have argued that Iranian support for the Houthis is very limited, and that the war in Yemen is a civil war, not a proxy war.

The women, part of a cell made up of 12 terrorists, were also found guilty of attempting to promote al-Qaeda through social media, incite demonstrations in Buraidah in Al-Qassim and insult the Kingdom, the government, security personnel and religious scholars from Saudi Arabia.

Mr Murphy rebuked the Riyadh government for their role in human rights violations against Yemen.

"If you want to send a signal to the Ayatollah [in Iran] that America is out of the fight and we are no longer a reliable ally, stop helping Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Arab states that have been helping us, as imperfect as they may be", said Republican Lindsey Graham of SC.

"If the Saudi government is innocent, it has nothing to fear from a day in court, " Blumenthal said.

A similar resolution to the one voted down in the senate has been introduced in the house, where more support may be garnered. Richard Blumenthal also objected to US policy toward Saudi Arabia by urging Congress to stay in session to override President Obama's expected veto of legislation that would, for the first time, allow victims of the 9/11 attacks to sue the Saudi government.

Despite the setback, William Hartung, director of the arms and security project at the Center for International Policy, argued that "the fact that the vote occurred at all" is a good sign.

In his Tuesday statement, Lieu said the United States should not be "aiding and abetting" the devastation in Yemen.

"I think it would be incorrect for any member to think this is a very simple issue, that it may not have ramifications for the United States in other venues around the world", Hoyer said. In addition to the war in Yemen - which is in many ways directly detrimental to US national security interests, destabilizing that country and allowing for the growth of extremist groups there - Saudi Arabia's actions across the Middle East, and funding of fundamentalism around the world are often at odds with USA interests, even as it works closely with the United States on counterterror issues.

"Our interests are not aligned in fundamental ways, in the way that many new senators and congressmen are taught when you show up here", Sen. "We still would like to have them as allies, but on the right terms".