Alwaght- The US administration announced on Friday that it will go ahead with a $8.1 billion weapons sales to Saudi Arabia and its allies despite the bloody aggression they have launched on Yemen. The Trump's administration , claimed that "Iranian aggression" presents a national security emergency which gives the president authority to bypass congressional objections.
"These sales will support our allies, enhance Middle East stability, and help these nations to deter and defend themselves from the Islamic Republic of Iran," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Friday evening in announcing the decision.
Members of Congress had been blocking sales of offensive military equipment to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates for months, angry about the huge civilian toll from their war on Yemeni nation, as well as human rights abuses such as the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at a Saudi consulate in Turkey.
Saudi Arabia and a number of its regional allies launched a devastating campaign against Yemen in March 2015, with the goal of bringing the government of former President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi back to power and crushing the Houthi Ansarullah movement. Ever since its onset, the aggression has killed tens of thousands of Yemeni civilians and plunged the country deep into what the UN calls worst humanitarian crisis in the world today.
Lawmakers and congressional aides warned earlier this week that Trump, frustrated with Congress holding up weapons deals including the sale of bombs to Saudi Arabia, was considering using a loophole in arms control law to go ahead by declaring a national emergency.
“President Trump is only using this loophole because he knows Congress would disapprove ... There is no new ‘emergency’ reason to sell bombs to the Saudis to drop in Yemen, and doing so only perpetuates the humanitarian crisis there,” said Senator Chris Murphy.
Murphy, a Democrat, made public on Twitter on Wednesday that Trump was considering the loophole in the Arms Control Export Act to clear the sales.
Several of Trump’s fellow Republicans, as well as Democrats, said they would object to such a plan, fearing that blowing through the “holds” process would eliminate Congress’ ability to check not just Trump but future presidents from selling weapons where they liked.
Representative Mike McCaul, the top Republican on the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, said the administration’s action was “unfortunate” and likely to damage future White House interactions with Congress.
“I would have strongly preferred for the administration to utilize the long-established and codified arms sale review process,” McCaul said in a statement.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement that U.S. partners in the Middle East needed the contracts to be completed to help deter Iran, and that the decision to circumvent Congress was meant to be a “one-time event.”
It is not the first time Congress and Trump have clashed over policy in the region, or the division of powers between the White House and Capitol Hill. The House and Senate voted to end U.S. military support for the campaign in Yemen earlier this year, but Trump vetoed the resolution.
They include Raytheon precision-guided munitions (PGMs), support for Boeing Co F-15 aircraft, and Javelin anti-tank missiles, which are made by Raytheon and Lockheed Martin Corp.
Other companies that will benefit include General Electric, now cleared to sell engines for use in F-16 fighter jets operated by the UAE and the U.S. unit of French firm Thales, which was cleared to sell a fuzing system for Paveway IV precision guided bombs to Britain and the UAE.
It will also likely be welcome news for Britain’s BAE Systems Plc and Europe’s Airbus, clearing the way for installation of Paveway laser-guided bombs on European-built Eurofighter and Tornado fighter jets sold to Saudi Arabia, as well F-15 fighters built by Boeing.
“I am disappointed, but not surprised, that the Trump Administration has failed once again to prioritize our long-term national security interests or stand up for human rights, and instead is granting favors to authoritarian countries like Saudi Arabia,” Senator Bob Menendez said in a statement.
Menendez, ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, vowed to fight the action, and said he was in talks with both Democrats and some of Trump’s fellow Republicans on ways to preserve congressional review of arms sales.
The Foreign Relations Committee chairman, Republican Senator Jim Risch, said he had received formal notification of the administration’s intent to move forward.
In a statement, Risch said, “I am reviewing and analyzing the legal justification for this action and the associated implications.”