Growing support for Senate resolution to block Saudi bomb sale

Next week, the US Senate will vote on Senate Joint Resolution 42, a resolution that blocks the planned sale of precision-guided munitions to Saudi Arabia. Human Rights Watch and the UN Panel of Experts have documented numerous instances of Saudi Arabia targeting civilians in Yemen with US-sold weapons. The Obama administration suspended this sale of precision-guided munitions because of its concerns over Saudi Arabia’s actions in Yemen. S.J.Res 42 seeks to reinstate that suspension. Several organizations and individuals have pledged their support for the resolution, emphasizing the importance of avoiding additional US complicity in a war riddled with violations of international law and promoting the peace process rather than escalating a military campaign that has little chance of success. Below are a number of organizational statements and op-eds making the case for S.J.Res 42.

The Yemen Peace Project and 40 other NGOs delivered a letter to senators arguing that Congress “must send a clear signal to the administration that US support for the Saudi-led coalition’s intervention in Yemen is not unconditional and that the conduct of our foreign affairs is a moral, and not merely a transactional, endeavor.” The letter argues that by supplying more arms to Saudi Arabia, the US would “exacerbate the already dire humanitarian crisis in Yemen, which has left more than 7 million civilians on the brink of famine, at least 8,000 thousand dead and 44,000 injured from conflict, nearly 20 million people facing extreme hunger, and 19 of the country’s 21 governorates country facing an unprecedented cholera epidemic that is spiraling out of control.”

Oxfam America released a statement supporting the resolution, highlighting its concerns over the humanitarian crisis and urging the US to block the transfer of weapons that will be used to target civilians and worsen the humanitarian catastrophe.

Amnesty International echoed these concerns, advocating the passage of the resolution, as selling arms with the knowledge that Saudi Arabia would likely turn them against civilians could implicate the US in war crimes.

The Cato Institute published an analysis concluding that the sale of precision-guided munitions should be blocked from a “foreign policy and national security perspective.” With the sale, the US would not only become more complicit in Saudi Arabia’s human rights violations, but also would undermine its own counterterrorism efforts. The author argues that America’s complicity in the devastation in Yemen vindicates AQAP’s rhetoric, and threatens regional stability, as such a large arms deal is likely to worry Israel and escalate an arms race with Iran, deepening the conflicts in the Middle East. The arms sale would encourage military intervention at the expense of diplomatic solutions, setting a dangerous precedent.

Lawrence Wilkerson, an opinion contributor to the US News and World Report and former Chief of Staff to Secretary of State Powell, wrote that Congress needs to block the sale. The sale would worsen the humanitarian crisis, strengthen the presence of AQAP, and tarnish the reputation of the US and the Gulf coalition, according to Wilkerson. He stresses that the US Congress should demonstrate leadership on humanitarian issues by supporting the resolution.

The New York Times editorial board criticized Trump’s lack of diplomacy in the Middle East. It recommends that Congress support this legislation, as the arms’ use in Yemen would implicate the US in possible war crimes. Trump’s approach in the Middle East, particularly his heightened support of Saudi Arabia, risks US national security and America’s reputation, according to the Times.