Wednesday, 21 September 2016
US Senate Votes on Blocking US Arms Sale to Saudi Arabia
The US Senate will vote Wednesday on a measure to block the sale of tanks and other military equipment worth $1.15 billion to Saudi Arabia, but the measure is not expected to pass despite lawmakers’ growing frustration with the longtime US ally.
The Pentagon announced on Aug. 9 that the State Department had approved the potential sale of more than 130 Abrams battle tanks, 20 armored recovery vehicles and other equipment to Saudi Arabia. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency said General Dynamics Corp would be the principal contractor for the sale.
A bipartisan group of senators, led by Republican Rand Paul and Democrat Chris Murphy, introduced a joint resolution seeking to block the arms deal, expressing concern that Saudi-led air strikes had martyred civilians in Yemen, worries that the deal might fuel a regional arms race and concern that Congress was giving up its power to declare war.
“We should be part of the debate over whether or not we go to war. But then we should debate the practicalities of whether or not it’s a good idea to be involved in the war in Yemen,” Paul said.
He further warned that the conflict could lead to instability and perhaps the rise of a militant group in Yemen, as Daesh [Arabic acronym for “ISIS” / “ISIL”] did in Syria.
The resolution also underscores concerns over what many in Congress see as Riyadh’s international promotion of the severe Wahhabism they view hostile.
“We’ve let them get away with it for years and years. And because they’re less bad than other people in the Middle East, we keep giving them weapons,” Paul said.
Democratic Representative Ted Lieu and Republican Representative Mick Mulvaney introduced companion legislation Tuesday seeking to block the sale in the House of Representatives.
Lieu in August sent a letter signed by 64 lawmakers asking US President Barack Obama to postpone the sale.
Separately, Congress could vote this week to override Obama’s promised veto of a measure allowing relatives of victims of the Sept. 11 attacks to sue the Saudi government.
Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team
21-09-2016 | 09:40