Senate Vote Fails to Block $100 Billion Saudi Arms Deal
June 13, 2017 Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com & Mallory Shelbourne / The Hill & Sen. Rand Paul / Fox News & Tyler Durden / ZeroHedge
The Senate has voted on the resolution introduced by Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Chris Murphy (D-CT) aiming to block portions of President Trump's $110 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia. Sen. Paul spoke extensively on the need to limit arms sales to Saudi Arabia, citing the humanitarian calamity of the Saudi invasion of neighboring Yemen and the Saudi regime's "very troubled record" on human rights.
Senate Vote Fails to Block Saudi Arms Deal Resolution Would Have Blocked Portions of $110 Billion Deal Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(June 13, 2017) -- The Senate has voted on the resolution introduced by Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Chris Murphy (D-CT) aiming to block portions of President Trump's $110 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia. The vote was as expected far closer than previous ones on previous arms deals, failing with just a 47-53 margin.
Sen. Paul spoke extensively on the need to limit arms sales to Saudi Arabia, citing the humanitarian calamity of the Saudi invasion of neighboring Yemen, warning it has linked Saudi Arabia's tactics to the United States' support in the minds of Yemenis.
Paul cited the "very troubled record" of Saudi Arabia on human rights, and cautioned that the record arms deal with them would serve to fuel hostility toward the United States abroad, citing specific incidents of Saudi warplanes bombing hospitals and funerals.
Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and John McCain (R-AZ) meanwhile argued that the arms might conceivably help the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, because the US makes "smarter" weapons that are more accurate. This argument was made in spite of the Saudi government already using US bombs throughout the war. The two also argued that arming Saudi Arabia was an excellent way for the US to move against Iran.
It's unlikely that the arguments were seriously impactful on the vote, however. Rather, support for the arms deal is primarily bolstered by lobbying from major US arms makers who stand to make tens of billions of dollars exporting weapons to the Saudis to keep the Yemen war going.
But for five Senate Democrats who voted against the resolution, it could've easily blocked aspects of the sales, and those Democrats almost certainly weren't swayed by Lindsey Graham's say-so.
(June 13, 2017) -- Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on Tuesday said that supporting a nearly $110 billion arms deal to Saudi Arabia is "counterproductive" to United States support for Israel, an argument that comes as the Senate prepares to vote on a resolution of disapproval against part of President Trump's weapons sale.
In an op-ed for FoxNews.com, Paul said lawmakers and their constituents should have a say in the arms deal, arguing that weapons could someday be used against Israel.
"The United States must also take into full consideration whether providing more arms to Saudi Arabia is beneficial to our ally in the region -- Israel," Paul wrote.
"It would seem counterproductive to provide weapons that might someday be used against Israel."
The senator also cited Saudi Arabia's continued military campaign in Yemen as a reason to oppose the arms sale.
"Already, US military assistance through intelligence, refueling missions, and the sale of major US defense equipment has not abated the humanitarian crisis in Yemen," Paul said.
"If anything, it has exacerbated it, and it has associated our name with Saudi Arabia's tactics in Yemenis' minds."
Paul, along with Sens. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Al Franken (D-Minn.), on Tuesday afternoon will bring a resolution of disapproval to a vote. The resolution opposed the sale of certain defense services, including technical data.
"Will our assistance bring an end to Saudi Arabia's history of promoting hatred of America and Israel throughout the world?" Paul asked in the op-ed.
(June 13, 2017) -- In 2016, Congress overwhelmingly voted to allow the family members of those killed in the 9/11 attacks to sue Saudi Arabia. So why, less than a year later, are we agreeing to sell Saudi Arabia billions of dollars in arms to further escalate a war that has been loudly and repeatedly condemned internationally?
And why should Congress -- the branch constitutionally charged with debating and approving America's involvement in war -- remain silent?
This week, a bipartisan group of senators will make sure the people's representatives go on the record when the US Senate takes up our joint resolution of disapproval.
The United States must also take into full consideration whether providing more arms to Saudi Arabia is beneficial to our ally in the region -- Israel. It would seem counterproductive to provide weapons that might someday be used against Israel.
If the past is any indication, any time we sell weapons to an adversary of Israel, the Israelis are forced to purchase more and newer weapons which only escalates an arms race in the Middle East.
"This is a matter that really should trouble us," Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said after the arms sale was announced, further noting, "We have also to make sure that those hundreds of billions of dollars of weapons to Saudi Arabia will not, by any means, erode Israel's qualitative edge, because Saudi Arabia is still a hostile country without any diplomatic relations and nobody knows what the future will be."
Already, US military assistance through intelligence, refueling missions, and the sale of major US defense equipment has not abated the humanitarian crisis in Yemen. If anything, it has exacerbated it, and it has associated our name with Saudi Arabia's tactics in Yemenis' minds.
According to UN estimates, the war in Yemen has so far cost at least 10,000 lives, and horror stories of civilian casualties continue to emerge from the conflict, including a Saudi-led bombing of a funeral in October that wounded hundreds and killed over 100.
A coalition airstrike on a hospital in August killed 19 and injured 24, according to Doctors Without Borders.
Will our assistance bring an end to Saudi Arabia's history of promoting hatred of America and Israel throughout the world?
Even Hillary Clinton questioned the loyalty of Saudi Arabia in an email released by WikiLeaks, saying, "We need … to bring pressure on the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which are providing clandestine financial and logistic support to ISIL and other radical Sunni groups in the region." Can Israel truly trust Riyadh to not use these weapons against the Jewish people in the future?
Make no mistake, Saudi Arabia has a very troubled record. Amnesty International has reported on 14 protesters that are currently being held on death row for "protest-related crimes." In Saudi Arabia, you do not have the right to associate. You do not have the right to speak your opinion. Women have virtually no rights.
A young man by the name of Ali Al-Nimr was arrested 5 years ago and still awaits a sentence of beheading and crucifixion on death row.
All of the questions I have asked here and more deserve debate. We must also pause and ask ourselves, does providing additional weapons to the Saudis make Israel safer or more dangerous in the long run?
The American people deserve to hear what their government is committing them to and what could come of it. Their representatives deserve a voice and a vote.
This week, they'll get that chance when the Senate votes on my resolution to stop this weapons sale.
Republican Rand Paul represents Kentucky in the United States Senate. Five Democrat Votes Allow Trump's Saudi Weapons Deal To Clear Senate Tyler Durden / ZeroHedge
(June 13, 2017) -- A bipartisan bid to block President Trump's recently negotiated $110 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia failed in the Senate. The effort to stop the weapons sales, authored by Senators Rand Paul and Chris Murphy, fell short on a 47-53 vote, with four Republicans joining most Democrats in voting against it and five Democrats voting to preserve deals that will arm the Saudi Kingdom with some of the most sophisticated equipment available.
The five democrats who made the passage of the weapons deal possible were Sens. Bill Nelson, Claire McCaskill, Joe Manchin, Joe Donnelly and Mark Warner.
Despite the failure, Politico notes that Paul and Murphy fared better on Tuesday than they did last year in a similar effort to block a Saudi arms sale under former President Barack Obama, thanks entirely to new Democratic supporters: it's curious how ideology changes one's outlook on lethal weaponry.
"Regardless of whether the number is 48 or 51 or 45" in favor of blocking the deals, Murphy told reporters before the vote, "this is an important message to the Saudis that we are all watching. And if they continue to target civilians and they continue to stop humanitarian aid from getting into Yemen, this vote will continue to go in the wrong direction for them."
Paul said after the vote that he and Murphy would discuss possible future attempts to block Trump's arms deals to Riyadh, warning that senators are growing more concerned about the civilian toll in a Yemen conflict that is pitting Saudi-backed government forces against rebel factions reportedly supported by Iran.
Before that happens, Paul told reporters, "there needs to be a period of time to see if there's a change in Saudi warfare tactics."
Like, for example, if Saudi Arabia plans on launching an assault on Qatar any time soon perhaps.
While Paul and Muprhy lost, the winners were the Trump administration, Saudi Arabia, and some Republicans such as Mitch McConnell, who claims this deal "will help Saudi Arabia fight ISIS and serve as a check on Iran."
Bob Corker was also a big supporter of the deal: "There is no classified intelligence that shows they have never intentionally bombed civilians -- as a matter of fact, intelligence down there shows that they didn't," Bob Corker told reporters before the vote, describing the attempted blockade of the sales as "cutting your nose off to spite your face."
While previously there was little information on the specifics of the multi-billion dollar deal, over the weekend Defense News reported that it "includes seven THAAD missile defense batteries, over 100,000 air-to-ground munitions and billions of dollars' worth of new aircraft."
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