Washington DC – Sunday– (06-09-2019) – New York Institute for foreign Policy Affairs (NYCFPA): This week, the Trump administration approved an arms deal for Arab allies that allows U.S. hi-tech bomb parts to be manufactured in Saudi Arabia, giving Riyadh unprecedented access to sensitive weapons technology. This is a smaller part of a larger $8.1 billion arms package for Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan announced two weeks ago. Despite Trump lacking congressional approval, he still continued with the arms sale by labeling it an “emergency” based on a heightened threat from Iran. Lawmakers are surprised that Trump went ahead on the sale without Congress.
Those opposed to the deal said the the deal sent the wrong message to Saudi Arabia given its human rights record and its air war in Yemen, raised security concerns about sharing technology with Riyadh. “The concerns over this sale are only one more reason showing the importance of congressional review and why it is deeply disturbing that the Trump administration is trying to circumvent the law and Congress to give the Saudis not only American jobs but also American weapons technology,” Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said. Menendez held up the sale of 120,000 precision-guided bombs for Saudi Arabia and the UAE last year because of numerous accounts of civilian casualties from Saudi-led air raids in Yemen. The senator has said the administration failed to convince him otherwise.
Human rights, U.N. investigators and aid groups have accused Saudi Arabia and its allies of striking civilian targets, including hospitals and schools, in indiscriminate bombing raids in Yemen since Riyadh started an armed intervention against Houthi rebels in 2015. Congressional resistance to weapons sales to Saudi Arabia only strengthened last year after the killing of Saudi writer and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
Here at NYCFPA, we stand firm on protecting every person’s basic human rights, and we urge the Trump administration to think strategically and carefully about continuing with this arms deal. The United States cannot play a part in co-producing bombs and contribute to an arms race, regional instability, and civilian deaths. Congress needs to put a stop to this, and the United States must act like the senior partner in this relationship with the Saudis.