A Call to Halt Further US Arms Sales to Saudi Arabia
(May 21, 2020) — Right now, because of Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the United States remains complicit in the catastrophic war in Yemen — the devastation of which is only deepening during the coronavirus pandemic.
Just about a year ago, Trump and Pompeo bypassed Congress — possibly illegally — to sell $8 BILLION worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Last week, at Pompeo’s request, Trump fired the State Department Inspector General charged with investigating that sale.
But Trump and Pompeo are merely taking the corrupt US alliance with the UAE and Saudi Arabia to its logical, dangerous conclusion in order to keep profits flowing to their arms dealer buddies. We’ve got to step in and demand Congress break the cycle.
This White House is cloaking US foreign policy in a veil of corruption and cronyism. This weekend, The New York Times reported, “the Trump administration pursues [foreign arms sales] mainly for the profits they generate and the jobs they create, with little regard for how the weapons are used.”
But the US government’s cozy ties to the arms industry come at a steep moral price: more than 100,000 people have already died in Yemen. In 2018, when the Saudi-led coalition killed 40 children and injured 79 others in a school bus bombing, they used Lockheed Martin bombs. Of course, not to be outdone by their competitors, researchers at Mwatana for Human Rights have traced weapons used in several deadly attacks on Yemeni civilians to Raytheon.
The sale of US weapons has enabled the catastrophic war in Yemen and other Saudi and Emirati human rights abuses for far too long. Yet, while the Obama administration paused some arms sales and repeated bipartisan majorities in Congress voted to block them entirely, the Trump administration has pressed on, welcoming arms lobbyists through the door.
Now, Trump and Pompeo have fired the State Department Inspector General investigating the legality of past weapons sales that might expose these deals for what they are: illegal money made from human suffering.
There must be repercussions for this corruption of US foreign policy: It is time to end the US role in propping up human rights abusers and an overpowered arms industry.
If this all sounds familiar, you wouldn’t be wrong — we’ve been here before. And like we did in past years, we’ll again raise our voices against a warmongering US foreign policy that hurts innocent people and puts the world at risk.
What we didn’t have then, that we’ve got with us now, is mounting evidence of the Trump administration’s corruption — and growing discontent from members of Congress and the US public that will fuel the fight to hold them accountable.
To members of the US House of Representatives and US Senate:
The firing of the State Inspector General for investigating the Trump administration’s possibly illegal emergency sale of $8 billion worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia and the UAE is corruption at its worst. There must be repercussions and we cannot allow the United States to support the Saudi and Emirati-led coalition’s brutal war in Yemen any longer.
I urge you to enact an unconditional five-year ban on arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates immediately.
Thank you for working for peace.
The Pentagon Won’t Talk about Saudi Arms Deals at Center of Pompeo Scandal
WASHINGTON (May 21, 2020) — The Pentagon referred questions Thursday to the State Department about American arms deals with Saudi Arabia, amid a controversy over an internal watchdog who was fired while reportedly investigating the agreements.
“I’m not going to talk about the interagency process on that and there’s obviously a lot of scrutiny and interest in this. I would refer you over to State Department, who handled the announcement on this,” Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman told reporters Thursday.
“Foreign military sales are an important part of what the department does and how we work with our allies and partners,” he added, saying that “with regard to that particular transaction I’m just gonna have to refer you over to the State Department I’m not going to discuss the interagency conversations.”
In a statement Thursday night, a State Department spokesperson wrote that “the Department met the requirements of the law and followed relevant practice in invoking this emergency authority, and has moved these arms transfers forward.
State Department Inspector General Steve Linick was looking into what role Secretary of State Mike Pompeo played in the potential fast-tracking of an $8 billion foreign military sale to the kingdom. Linick was also looking into other matters, such as whether Pompeo and his wife, Susan, had a State Department staffer walk their dog, pick up dry cleaning and perform other personal tasks.
Pompeo urged President Donald Trump to Linick last week, and Trump complied. The nation’s top diplomat told reporters on Wednesday that he should have recommended Linick’s dismissal sooner, but did not elaborate on reasons as to why.
“There are claims that this was for retaliation for some investigation that the inspector general’s office here was engaged in. Patently false,” Pompeo said.
Saudi Arabia is America’s top weapons buyer, and the world’s largest arms importer. Between 2015 and 2019, Riyadh imported 73% of its arms from Washington, according to a report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.
In March 2018, Trump praised Saudi Arabia’s defense acquisitions as he met with the nation’s powerful Crown Prince Mohammed at the White House — and pushed for even more.
“Saudi Arabia is a very wealthy nation, and they’re going to give the United States some of that wealth, hopefully, in the form of jobs, in the form of the purchase of the finest military equipment anywhere in the world,” Trump said at the time.
While Congress discussed the possibility of placing some restrictions on weapons exports to Saudi Arabia in 2019, deliveries of air defense systems, combat aircraft and guided bombs continued throughout the year.
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