A new American arms sale to Saudi Arabia has instigated disputes in US society. US representative introduced a legislation to ban the sale. Saudi Arabia faces multiple allegations concerning using the weaponry against non-military population in Yemen and elsewhere.
Yesterday, a congress Representative introduced legislation to ban an imminent $650-million arms sale to Saudi Arabia. The first large military deal of democratic administration with Riyadh includes air-to-air missiles.
Ilhan Omar, who leads the move, explained that she introduced the “joint resolution of disapproval” in response to the kingdom’s involvement in Yemen’s civil conflict and its abuse of human rights in recent years. The Saudi-led offensive against Yemen led to the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, according to the UN.
The democratic Representative also issued a statement in which she clarified the motivations behind the resolution. “We should never be selling human rights abusers weapons, but we certainly should not be doing so in the midst of a humanitarian crisis they are responsible for,” She explained in part of her statement. “Congress has the authority to stop these sales, and we must exercise that power,” Omar further added.
The legislation would also have to win a Senate vote and overcome a possible veto. As such, the initiative’s chances of halting the deal are poor. Biden claimed to have a plan to limit military deliveries to Riyadh to “defensive” hardware. Nevertheless, Omar’s move, besides a historic experience, highlights ongoing skepticism over arms deals with Riyadh among certain senators.
Despite the fact that Riyadh is a key ally, US legislators have declined numerous arms sale to the monarchy. The want a secure reassurance that Saudi Arabia won’t utilize the weaponry against civilians in Yemen or other countries. Riyadh has proved during the years that it can keep the pledges in the long run.
The New Arms Sale
In a statement by Pentagon on Thursday, Washington announced the approval of new round of arms sale to Saudi Arabia. The new deal, according to the statement, contains air-to-air missiles and is worth more than $650 million.
“This proposed sale will support US foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a friendly country that continues to be an important force for political and economic progress in the Middle East,” Pentagon explained in the statement.
US President declared months earlier that US backing for the kingdom’s aggressive activities in Yemen, including “related arms sales,” would be cut off. A thread of tweets by the State Department’s division claims that the missiles have no utility to attack ground targets. This is the only guarantee that they won’t exacerbate the condition in Yemen.
“We’ve seen an increase in cross-border attacks against Saudi Arabia over the past year. Saudi AIM-120C missiles, deployed from Saudi aircraft, have been instrumental in intercepting these attacks that also [put] US forces at risk and over 70,000 US citizens in the Kingdom at risk,” the statement went on to explain.
Although the transaction doesn’t need authorization, legislators can veto it by introducing a disapproval measure in both chambers of Congress. The new arms sale comes after the US approved a $500 million maintenance contract for Saudi Arabia two months ago.
Critics of Saudi regional and trans-regional conduct lambasted the US decision soon after its announcement. “This has nothing to do with making the world a better place and everything to do with fueling our defense economy,” Marianne Williamson, a former presidential candidate, posted on Twitter.
Biden administration had pledged to reverse the support for Riyadh due to Yemen disaster. Critics, however, found the new moves disappointing.