Published: Sun, May 26, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Trump invokes emergency provision to OK Saudi, UAE arms sales

Trump invokes emergency provision to OK Saudi, UAE arms sales

Congress dealt Trump a harsh rebuke in March with a historic bipartisan resolution that would have curtailed the president's war-making powers and ended American support for the Saudi-led coalition.

A U.S. official tells CNN that the arms packages for UAE and Saudi Arabia will include surveillance aircraft and maintenance, as well as training programs, advanced precision kill weapon guidance systems and Javelin missiles.

On Friday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo notified Congress of the administration's decision to make the sale.

"I have deep concerns about how our Gulf partners have conducted the war in Yemen, including with USA weapons, some of which have reportedly ended up in the wrong hands in Yemen", he said in a statement.

"My whole view of Saudi Arabia changed with the murder of Jamal Khashoggi", Feinstein said.

A Democratic congressional source told The Intercept on Friday that the administration was using the measure to clear a backlog of more than 20 proposed arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE, many of which would be blocked if they came to a vote in the Senate. Under the rarely used provision, however, the president can certify that "an emergency exists" and that an immediate transfer is necessary for "the national security interests of the United States".

The Secretary of state notified Congress of his decision to use an emergency loophole in the law regulating the export of arms to sell surveillance equipment, precision munitions and other supplies to Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Jordan.

Khashoggi, who was a strong critic of the Saudi government, was killed after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

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The move has also alarmed arms control advocates, who have argued for restrictions on arms sales to Saudi Arabia, especially in the wake of the murder previous year of Saudi dissident and Washington Post contributing columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

Senator Robert Menendez (D-New Jersey), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, blasted the Trump administration's decision to move ahead with the sales while sidestepping a congressional review.

"[The president] is (again) going around Congress-this time to unilaterally approve billions in arms sales, including to the brutal Saudi regime".

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.

He added that if there is an emergency, then it is a "humanitarian emergency caused by the bombs we sell the Saudis". "The possible consequences of this decision will ultimately threaten the ability of the USA defense industry to export arms in a manner that is both expeditious and responsible".

The chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, Republican Senator Jim Risch of Idaho, said he was "reviewing and analyzing the legal justification for this action and the associated implications".

"No arms sales to Saudi Arabia". President George H.W. Bush used it to arm regional allies in the lead-up to the Gulf War against Saddam Hussein, and George W. Bush expedited weapons to Israel during the 2006 war with Lebanese Hezbollah.

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