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US Senate has its say, blocking arms sales to Saudi Arabia

13 7 0

The US Senate yesterday blocked arms sales to Saudi Arabia, ushering in a new episode in the House’s stance towards the Kingdom. This comes as a rebuke of US President Donald Trump, who has been trying to sell $8 billion worth of military weapons to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and others.

Though the US administration reportedly cited Iran as justification for invoking emergency powers to transfer the arms, this does not appear to have been a good enough reason to make the sales, particularly at a time when there is clear division on whether war with Iran is the right course of action. The senators voted 53-45 in two votes and 51-45 in a third; in doing so, they succeeded in passing 22 resolutions of disapproval.

President Trump has been keen to maintain good relations with Saudi Arabia and its Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) since he became president. This has remained his policy, even in spite of the crimes Saudi Arabia is committing in Yemen and the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul in October. Since less than two-thirds of the Senate voted to block the arms sales, the president may now intervene in order to prevent the Senate’s decision from entering into force.

“It is likely that President Trump will veto the latest block of arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE,” Kristian Ulrichsen, a Baker Institute fellow for the Middle East, explained. “The direct impact will more symbolic than anything else, particularly as it comes in the direct aftermath both of the UK court ruling on Saudi arms sales and the UN report into the death of Jamal Khashoggi, which are likely to continue to increase the pressure on........

© Middle East Monitor