Published: Fri, June 21, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

United Kingdom government suspends new arms sales to Saudi Arabia after court ruling

United Kingdom government suspends new arms sales to Saudi Arabia after court ruling

The tally of the first two votes was each 53-45, while the final resolution passed 51-45.

Trump vetoed the measure in April.

In a letter last month to congressional lawmakers, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that he "determined that an emergency exists, which requires the immediate sale of the defense articles and defense services" to Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Jordan "in order to deter further the malign influence of the Government of Iran throughout the Middle East region", according to a copy obtained by CNN.

In Washington, the Senate voted to prevent $8.1 billion in United States arms in a symbolic bipartisan rebuke to the president and his close ties with the kingdom.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Senator Lindsey Graham (Republican-South Carolina) during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, May 1, 2019, on the Mueller Report.

While the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives is also likely to vote to block the sale, analysts say it is nearly certain Congress will not have the necessary votes to override a veto from Mr Trump.

In this March 14, 2017 photo, President Donald Trump meets with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington.

With 22 separate sales pending, the other 20 resolutions involved arms sales to other allies, including the United Arab Emirates.

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Iran shot down a United States drone on Thursday, a move Mr Trump declared "a very big mistake".

A court in London ruled that Britain had acted unlawfully in the way it granted export licences for arms exports to the kingdom. The meeting came after Trump tweeted "Iran made a very big mistake!"

The senator was referring to last year's brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey at the hands of Saudi agents, an incident that triggered a full-blown crisis in Riyadh's relations with the West.

Estimates say that two-thirds of the civilian deaths were caused by the Saudi-led coalition; the rest were victims of actions by the Houthi rebels they are fighting. Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told his fellow lawmakers that passing these resolutions would not only send a strong message to the Trump administration but set an important precedent going forward. Risch added that blocking the sale would also "encourage miscalculation on the part of Iranians which will be disastrous".

He declared that ongoing tensions with Iran amounted to a national emergency, meaning the sale of weapons - including precision-guided bombs - was a matter of urgency.

The United Nations has described the conflict in Yemen, which has killed almost 100,000 people, as the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

Speaking on the Senate floor before the vote, Republican Rand Paul called on voters to expel politicians eager to continue selling arms to the Kingdom, citing the hundreds of civilians Saudi warplanes have killed in Yemen over the past four years and the royal family's track record of support for violent Islamist movements throughout the Middle East.

Labour said British ministers had wilfully disregarded evidence that Saudi Arabia was violating worldwide humanitarian law in Yemen, while nevertheless continuing to supply Riyadh with weapons.

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