News Release

Congress to Vote on Saudi Arms Sales as it Commits “War Crimes”

The Hill recently reported in “Senators make bipartisan push to block $650M weapons sale to Saudis” that “Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) introduced a joint resolution disapproving of the proposed arms sale to the Middle Eastern country, pointing to its role in Yemen’s civil war. … Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) introduced her own joint resolution aimed at blocking the sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia.” A vote in the Senate is expected as early as Tuesday afternoon.

HASSAN EL-TAYYAB, hassan@fcnl.org, @HassanElTayyab
    El-Tayyab is legislative director for Middle East policy for the Friends Committee on National Legislation, which is among the signatories to a recent letter: “Congress Must Block Biden Administration’s Wrongful $650 Million Arms Sale to Saudi Arabia or Risk Fueling Further U.S. Complicity in Rights Violations and Yemeni Civilian Suffering.”

    In November of 2019, Biden claimed he would change U.S. policy on Saudi Arabia: “I would make it very clear we were not going to in fact sell more weapons to them,” Biden said. “We were going to in fact make them pay the price, and make them in fact the pariah that they are.”

    Other signatories of the letter include Amnesty International USA, Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN), Just Foreign Policy and Yemen and Relief Reconstruction Foundation.

    The letter states: “Approving this sale sends a message of impunity that the United States supports Saudi Arabia’s escalating policy of collective punishment, at a time when it is critical the administration heed the calls of over 100 members of Congress to use U.S. leverage, including the halting of arms transfers and military assistance, to end the blockade and other violations against civilians in Yemen. Roughly 20.7 million people — nearly 80 percent of the population — are in need of humanitarian aid, with a staggering 16.2 million Yemenis acutely food insecure and 7 million on the brink of famine. A recent Washington Post report on a Yemeni family that had to choose between which of their children would be saved from starvation illustrates the issue of the Saudi-led coalition’s control of Yemen’s airspace and ‘severe restrictions on the port of Hodeidah.’

    “For nearly seven years, U.S.-supported Saudi forces have unlawfully targeted civilian objects and infrastructure via indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks that have killed and injured thousands of civilians in Yemen. These aerial bombardments include myriad war crimes and have exacerbated the catastrophic humanitarian crisis. The unlawful blockade imposed by the Saudi-led coalition on Yemen has led to catastrophic impacts on fuel, food, and medical access for millions, illegally obstructing critically needed aid and assistance. Saudi fighters attacked Sana’a airport’s runway in April 2015, destroying cargo planes transporting vital humanitarian assistance.”