Is Saudi Arms Deal Becoming a National Issue for US?

saudi arabia arms deal-US

While the entire United States has been yelling that Saudi Arabia is not its ally, the Trump administration seems to have covered its ears. In a bewildering decision, President Donald Trump recently announced to neglect Congress and work out an emergency arms deal to Saudi and the United Arab Emirates.

The excess of support that the administration has been bestowing upon its Middle Eastern allies has been strong enough to create a common platform for both Democrats and Republicans to stand together.

President Trump decided to defy Congress and go ahead with the plans of selling 22 weapons worth $8.1 billion to Saudi, UAE and Jordan. On the other hand, senators decided to impede the US-Saudi arms deal.

Last month, he notified Congress about invoking a provision of the Arms Export Control Act. While the law usually grants 30 days for lawmakers to review and potentially block the arms sales, the President’s use of executive powers discarded the review period.

The administration declared that the emergency was a growing threat from Iran that forced it to circumvent lawmakers’ review of major arms deals. The bombardment of such stern decisions to support Saudi, induced disagreements inside the Republican caucus.

A bipartisan group of senators is now scaling up their efforts to block Trump administration’s emergency arms sales to its Gulf allies. It is a situation of urgency for the lawmakers to respond before the weapons reach Riyadh.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), an ardent Trump ally, joined the senators against Trump and sponsored a measure to block Saudi arms deal, along with Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Bob Menendez (D-N.J.).

Senators highlighted that Graham’s support for the resolution is the greatest illustration of frustration on Capitol Hill.

Besides, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.) also initiated a measure that would request a report on Saudi’s human rights record. The measure under current law is expected to lead to a vote that could stop billions in arms sales.

The question is why a conflict between the President and senators is arising in the first place. Why the Senators are not backing Trump’s decision, who is also denying to trust anyone’s decision than his own?

The conflict is due to a difference in the interests of the two sides. While President Trump is unable to picture America without Saudi Arabia’s support, Senators prefer to stick to humanitarian grounds.

Senators first got frustrated with Saudi Arabia after the death of the Washington Post journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, who was confirmed to have been dismembered on the orders of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Besides, the prolonged suffering of the people and massive disruption in Yemen has also got them worried.

Senators are concerned that the Saudi arms deal could cause more civilian casualties in the war-torn country, where the Kingdom is playing a major role.

However, President Trump is focusing more on his own country and its interests. Neglecting the ill-records of Saudi Arabia’s acts breaching human rights, he is willing to fulfill all their demands and back them.

The oil imports and Saudi’s aversion towards Iran are having a magic spell on Trump to stand for and with the Kingdom. The President probably believes that “an enemies enemy is a friend”, which is why Saudi Arabia appears to him an important ally for being the only Middle Eastern nation against Iran.

While the Gulf countries — Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Jordan — are causing world’s worst humanitarian crisis in Yemen, the Trump administration is also inflicting an indirect war in the country by providing weapons.

As the senators have decided to become a hurdle in its way, the Saudi arms deal could possibly have no end. However, no matter what the outcome may be, will Trump really be able to “make America great again” by backing a country that is disrupting other nations and killing several innocents?

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