Saudi Arabia arms sale halted: Rand Paul applauds decision but says ‘it is only a drop in the bucket’
A bipartisan group of US Senators, who have been very outspoken over U.S. participation in Saudi Arabia’s military actions in Yemen, have applauded a recent decision by the White House to halt some military arms sales to Saudi Arabia.
While happy with the decision, U.S. Senators Rand Paul (R-KY), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Al Franken (D-MN), and Mike Lee (R-UT), continue to urge further action to end military support for a war marked by humanitarian abuses.
Saudi Arabia has led a military campaign in Yemen with devastating humanitarian consequences and a security vacuum that has empowered U.S. terrorist enemies, al Qaeda, and ISIS.
“I’m pleased to see the administration respond to growing pressure over its arms sales to Saudi Arabia,” said Sen. Paul. “Halting this $350 million sale is a positive start, but it is only a drop in the bucket of the administration’s total support. Until President Obama ends his unilateral, unconstitutional involvement in this regional war, our voices will only get louder.”
Sen. Murphy said, “Halting these weapons sales to the Saudis is the right call. But if we are concerned about U.S.-supplied bombs being dropped on civilians, we should also stop refueling the Saudi planes that are flying those missions. Both the Saudi-led coalition and the Houthi-Saleh alliance have been responsible for killing innocent civilians and denying vitally needed humanitarian aid. Any further assistance – including weapons deliveries already in the pipeline – should be conditioned on prioritizing civilian protection and a willingness to compromise in political negotiations to end the war.”
“Thousands of civilians have been killed or wounded in the U.S.-backed war in Yemen,” said Sen. Franken. “This is a tragedy that we cannot continue to support. I’m hopeful that this decision begins to send the message that the United States is not going to turn a blind eye to Saudi Arabia’s indiscriminate killing of men, women, and children. This is an important step, one that we called for in Congress, but we need to keep pressing for more action.”
“While this announcement may signal that the administration is finally beginning to understand the contradictions of their policy towards Yemen, our military is still involved in a war without authorization from Congress with no justifiable strategy,” Sen. Lee said. “From day-one Congress should begin to engage the incoming administration on reviewing the international entanglements in which our country has become involved.”
In September, Senators Paul, Murphy, Franken, and Lee introduced a joint resolution of disapproval, S.J.Res 39, to block the $1.15 billion U.S. sale of Abrams tanks and associated major defense articles to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. In April, Senators Paul and Murphy introduced a separate joint resolution to increase Congressional oversight of military sales to Saudi Arabia by requiring the President of the United States to formally certify that the Government of Saudi Arabia is demonstrating an ongoing effort to target terrorist groups, minimize harm to civilians, and facilitate humanitarian assistance before Congress can consider the sale or transfer of air-to-ground munitions to Saudi Arabia.