PICTURED: Taiz City, Yemen, November 2nd, 2018. Water crisis caused by the war in the city of Taiz South Yemen. Over 85,000 children are at risk of starvation under sanctions and the deliberate targeting of civilian infrastructure by the Saudi-led coalition. Photo credit Anas al-Hajj
Washington D.C. June 19th, 2019. The Senate Committee on Foreign Relations has produced 22 joint resolutions aimed at prohibiting the sale of weapons, weapon systems, technical support, and spare parts to The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and The United Arab Emirates.
This comes in direct response to Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo’s letters to Congress stating that an $8 billion arms sale would be carried out unburdened by congressional review.
This would be achieved by the National Emergency executive powers, allowing the President to circumnavigate congressional review on the grounds that the security of the nation is at risk.
President Trump has used this power twice before: during the 2018-19 government shutdown over budget talks, and in order to harshen sanctions on Venezuela.
U.S. Senator Robert Menedez (D-N.J.) a ranking member of the committee, spoke out against the sale in May.
“I am deeply concerned about the rumors that the Administration plans to bypass Congress and sell weapons to foreign governments, including the UAE and Saudi Arabia, one of the worst human rights abusers in the world”.
“I will pursue all appropriate legislative and other means to nullify these and any planned ongoing sales should the Administration move forward in this manner”.
Arsenal of Democracy
Among the prohibited exports listed within the 22 individual joint resolutions, are such stockpiles as “20,004 Advanced Precision Kill Weapon Systems (APKWS) II All-Up-Rounds; weapons support and test equipment; spares; technical publications; personnel training…”
Other big-ticket items on the ledger would be the proposed sale of follow-on support and services for Royal Saudi Air Force aircraft, engines, and weapons along with use publications and technical documentation; support equipment; spares, calibration, and repair parts…” all of which would be barred under JR 29 and JR 32.
The main targets are the limiting of the Saudi air force and their ability to maintain their capability to carry out strikes in Yemen which have caused a humanitarian disaster.
A Bipartisan Victory
Now the committee, working with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, has come up trumps for the people of Yemen who have often been written off as collateral damage over the last four years of war.
The Committee announced that Menendez has McConnell’s assurances his resolutions will pass the Senate.
“I want to thank the bipartisan group of cosponsors of these resolutions, the Majority leader, and our staffs for diligently working through this unprecedented process.” spoke Menendez on the Senate floor this afternoon.
“Earlier this year, I led a bipartisan group of Senators, including a number on the Foreign Relations Committee, in reintroducing legislation to hold Saudi Arabia Accountable for its devastating actions in Yemen, gross human rights abuses and the murder of American resident Jamal Khashoggi”.
“I understand that the Chairman has also been working on legislation, and we have agreed to use his legislation as a base text to which we will be able to offer amendments that reflect the bipartisan consensus contained in my bill, the Saudi Arabia Accountability and Yemen Act”.