A group of 60 congressmen have signed a letter seeking to delay the arms sale to Saudi Arabia, Foreign Policy reported on Monday.
The US magazine said the move signals that the “frustration is growing in Congress over Saudi Arabia.”
“A bipartisan group of 60 lawmakers have signed a letter seeking to delay the Obama administration’s planned sale of $1.15 billion in arms and military equipment to Riyadh.”
The letter, addressed to President Barack Obama, cites the growing number of civilian casualties in Yemen caused by the Saudi-led military coalition, and the Obama administration’s failure to reign in its Arab ally.
“This military campaign has had a deeply troubling impact on civilians,” wrote the lawmakers in a draft obtained by Foreign Policy.
“Just in the last several days, a Saudi airstrike on a school in Yemen killed 10 children – some as young as 6-years-old – and a Saudi airstrike on an MSF hospital in Yemen killed 11 people.”
The missive is expected to be sent to the White House on Tuesday.
The proposed sale, approved by the State Department on Aug. 9, includes up to 153 tanks, ammunition, hundreds of machine guns, and sundry other military equipment. Congress has 30 days to block the sale, but the lawmakers appear irritated that the notification of the sale came in the middle of Congress’s summer recess.
“Any decision to sell more arms to Saudi Arabia should be given adequate time for full deliberation by Congress,” wrote the lawmakers.
“We are concerned, however, that the timing of this notification during the August congressional recess could be interpreted to mean that Congress has little time to consider the arms deal when it returns from recess within the 30 day window established by law.”
According to FP, a State Department official declined to comment on whether the executive branch would delay the proposed sale, saying he hasn’t yet seen the lawmakers’ letter. The official said the U.S. remains committed to confronting “any external threat” to the territorial integrity of Gulf allies, like Saudi Arabia, but added that Riyadh and Houthi rebels “should cease all military action.”
Co-signers of the letter include a mix of Republicans and Democrats, FP reported.
“This is a first step, which shows that members of Congress are increasingly ready to move from expressing private concerns to the administration to taking public action to reduce US support for Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen,” said Robert Naiman, policy director at Just Foreign Policy.
Source: Foreign Policy