He opposed a similar deal Obama proposed.
While in Saudi Arabia, President Donald Trump signed a $110 billion arms deal with the kingdom. The White House has claimed the deal “includes defense equipment and other support to help the Arab nation and the rest of the Gulf region fight again terrorism and the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran.”
But Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has a problem with the munitions part of the deal due to Saudi Arabia’s continued coalition in Yemen against the ousted government.
From Fox Business:
“This isn’t like trying to convince someone to buy apples from the United States or to buy tobacco from the United States – this is something intimately involved with our national security and we shouldn’t sell weapons to countries who I think may well do more harm than good with those weapons,” Sen. Paul said.
“Their concern is to promote their radical form of Islam, Wahhabism,” said Paul. “That is really a virus that has sort of spread throughout the world. It teaches hatred of America and intolerance, and I just don’t think that’s something in our best interest to support them.”
Paul has found support with Democrats Chris Murphy and Al Franken.
The three of them must “wait 10 calendar days before they can bring their measure up on the Senate floor using a frequently overlooked provision of the Arms Export Control Act.”
The lawmakers aim to block about $500 million of the sale, the portion including precision-guided munitions and other offensive weapons.
“Given Saudi Arabia’s past support of terror, poor human rights record, and questionable tactics in its war in Yemen, Congress must carefully consider and thoroughly debate if selling them billions of dollars of arms is in our best national security interest at this time,” Paul said in a statement.
Paul, Murphy, and Franken introduced a similar resolution last year when the Obama administration offered a $1.15 billion arms deal to Saudi Arabia. The resolution failed, but the administration decided to suspend the deal “because of concerns over the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen and civilian casualties.”
Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, thinks this resolution will also fail because he believes “most of the people on the committee and in the Senate support those sales.” The Hill continued:
But Corker countered that he has seen “no indication of purposeful civilian casualties” by Saudi Arabia and that lawmakers have been telling the Saudi government privately that it needs to do better.
“I think we’ve all been doing that, okay, there have been all kind of back channel conversations relative to those issues. We had a very blunt meeting with the foreign minister recently on this very topic. I mean very very blunt I might add,” he told reporters, when asked if Congress could pressure Saudi Arabia.
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