US Senate votes to further arm Saudi Arabia as Yemen suffers

Saudi army artillery
June 17, 2017

The US Senate voted on June 13 to approve a widely criticised $500 million sale of precision-guided munitions to Saudi Arabia, narrowly beating back a bipartisan effort to block the deal.

The final tally was 53-47 in favour of the sale, which is just part of a massive $100 billion arms package.

Among the sponsors of the resolution put forth to block the sale was Democratic Senator Chris Murphy, who argued that despite the opposition's defeat, the effort nonetheless sent a "strong message" to Saudi Arabia.

"A bipartisan coalition of Senators just sent a major message to the Saudis," Murphy said in a statement. "Today's vote total would’ve been unthinkable not long ago, but Congress is finally taking notice that Saudi Arabia is using US munitions to deliberately hit civilian targets inside Yemen."

Human rights groups echoed this sentiment while arguing that to continue to arm a persistent violator of human rights and funder of extremism is to be complicit in both.

Jodie Evans, co-founder of the anti-war group CODEPINK, said of the deal: "Voting for the weapons sale, these Senators showed that they value the war profiteers more than lives of Yemenis and more than US national security."

If lawmakers really cared about national security, she asked, "would they vote to arm the regime most responsible for the spread of the Wahhabist ideology that forms the underpinnings of terrorist groups from Al Qaeda to ISIS? Would they vote to arm the regime that has funded and supported these terrorist groups?"

Yemenis, the victims of US-backed Saudi aggression, feel "abandoned and betrayed" by the continued arms flow, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Ali Mohammed Murshed, a 32-year-old delivery man from Sana'a, spoke to the Times and exemplified how repeated arms deals in the face of Yemeni suffering only fuels anti-US sentiment in the country.

"There is nothing in this world that I hate more than Americans," Murshed said.

"With all the arms they have given to Saudi Arabia, the Saudis have achieved nothing after more than two years but killing civilians and destroying infrastructure," he concluded.

[Abridged from Common Dreams.]

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