US-Gulf arms sale, an attempt to circumvent Congress

On Wednesday, US senators questioned the State Department official about US President, Donald Trump’s, decision to sell arms to Saudi Arabia, UAE and Jordon. They challenges Trump’s emergency declaration made on May 24, under the Arms Export Control Act to push through the sale of 22 different arms, worth $8 billion, without congressional review. Not only the Democrat objected to the move, calling it “slap in the face”, even Republicans also opposed the same.

Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs R Clarke Cooper justified the move by giving explanation to the House Foreign Affairs Committee for Trump administration’s decision to rush weapons sales. He said that it was necessary to counter the “urgent regional threat posed by Iran” and to ensure that US allies do not purchase arms from “near-peer competitors” like China and Russia.

Democratic Representative Colin Allred of Texas criticised the move by calling it an attempt to keep the Congress in dark. Allred said, “It seems like … an attempt just basically to circumvent Congress because we did not agree with the decision to sell these arms to Saudi Arabia.”

US lawmakers have put a part of the arms sale on hold over concerns with Saudi Arabia’s human rights record, and for Kingdom and Emirates alleged involvement in the Yemen crisis, worst humanitarian crisis where over 70,000 Yemeni civilians have been killed in the war since January 2016. Some are even making an effort to stop Trump’s move, which is seen as an ‘abuse of power’.

Todd Young, a Republican from Indiana, suggested to introduce a new legislation, under the Foreign Assistance Act. It would require the Trump administration to issue a report in 30 days on the kingdom’s human rights record, at which time Congress could vote to block the arms sales despite Trump’s alleged emergency.

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