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More US lawmakers line up to derail Trump’s $110bn arms deal with Saudi

29 May 2017 15:05

 

US President Donald Trump’s massive $110 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia faces a bleak future in Congress as more lawmakers raise questions about the regime’s atrocities in Yemen.

Trump signed the multi-billion dollar deal with Saudis during his maiden overseas trip to Riyadh last week, boasting that it was going to make and save “billions of dollars and millions of jobs” in the US.

Besides fighter jets, warships and other weapons, the deal also included precision guided munitions (PGMs), the sale of which was halted last year by then US President Barack Obama over the Riyadh’s ongoing war against Yemen.

In a letter to the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, Ted Lieu, a Democrat, and Ted Yoho, a Republican, asked their fellow lawmakers to reconsider the sale of PGMs under Trump’s arms deal.

They argued that the Obama administration decided to halt the sale “due to concerns over the widespread civilian casualties in Yemen” and “significant deficiencies” in the Royal Saudi Arabian Air Force’s (RSAF) targeting capabilities.”

“This decision was the result of an internal review launched after the United Nations and a number of human rights organizations documented a series of RSAF airstrikes on civilian targets including hospitals, markets, schools and a large funeral,” the wrote.

In October last year, Saudi aircraft targeted a crowded funeral ceremony in Yemen’s capital, Sana’a, killing over 140 people and injuring more than 500 others.

People inspect a house destroyed by a Saudi-led airstrike on the outskirts of Sana’a, Yemen, on February 16, 2017. (Photo by AP)
People inspect a house destroyed by a Saudi-led airstrike on the outskirts of Sana’a, Yemen, on February 16, 2017. (Photo by AP)

Saudi Arabia has been leading an invasion of Yemen from the air, land, and sea since March 2015. The unprovoked war has killed over 12,000 civilians and wounded thousands more.

In their letter, Lieu and Yoho said the Trump State Department had reversed the PMGs sale ban in March “without providing any justification for what had changed in its assessment.”

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The letter came days after Senators Chris Murphy, Al Franken and Rand Paul introduced a measure to block the deal through a vote in early June.

Senator Patrick Leahy, the ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, has also blasted Trump for the deal, accusing him of kowtowing to “one of the world’s wealthiest and repressive regimes.”

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