For a few weeks, it seemed as if the previously reported sale of 130 Abrams Tanks, 20 armored recovery vehicles and various other military equipment to Saudi Arabia in exchange for $1.15 billion may not go through due to another round of highly theatrical opposition by US congressmen. However, late this afternoon, the Saudis – ostensibly the most generous donor to the Clinton Foundation – once again showed who pulls the strings in Congress, when despite all the populist rhetoric, the Senate backed the $1.15 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia. More amusingly, this happened even as Congress is preparing to override an expected presidential veto of a different bill allowing 9/11 victims’ families to sue the Saudi government.
As Politico reported, the Senate voted 71-27 to kill a resolution from Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) that would have blocked the $1.15 billion sale of Abrams tanks to Saudi Arabia, which the State Department, best known these days for handing out “pay to play” favors under Hillary Clinton, approved last month.
M1 Abrams tank
Murphy said that even though the vote was unsuccessful, his goal wasn’t necessarily to pass the resolution, but rather to press Saudi Arabia on its role in the civil war in Yemen. Riyadh has been accused of killing civilians with airstrikes in Yemen and other human rights violations. Two days ago we reported that not only was the US supplying Saudi Arabia with white phosphorus, but that Saudi Arabia used US-made weapons to destroy a MSF hospital in the latest civilian casualty scandal perpetrated by Saudi Arabia.
“I don’t think the Saudis are interested in continually having a debate about the future of U.S.-Saudi relationship on the floor of the Senate or the House,” Murphy told POLITICO ahead of the vote. “I knew from the beginning that this was not becoming law. My point here is to raise a discussion about the war in Yemen and Saudi behavior in the region that isn’t happening.”
In addition to human rights concerns, Paul and Murphy argued the sale might fuel an ongoing regional arms race. During the debate, Paul said that US involvement in Iraq and Syria was illegal as there was no congressional authorization for it, and that this debate was an indirect vote on the war in Yemen.
“It’s an indirect vote because they won’t allow a direct vote”, he said, adding that Americans deserved to have a debate on “when and where we should be at war.” The opposition went beyond just a weapons sale and into whether the US should be complicit in a Saudi-led war on Yemen.
Murphy argued that all of the Saudi bombs, provided by the US, are being dropped on civilians and Yemen’s Houthi faction, rather than being used against “our sworn enemy, Al-Qaeda.” This war has given opportunity for Al Qaeda and Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIS/ISIL) to grow in leaps and bounds, he said.
“How can you say you’re serious about strangling ISIL when the textbooks that are produced inside Saudi Arabia are the very same textbooks that are handed out to recruit suicide bombers?” Murphy asked on the Senate floor.
“People say ‘no big deal we are not really at war in Yemen’ – well yes we are, we are refueling Saudi bombers that are dropping bombs in Yemen,” Paul said. “We’ve given Saudi Arabia a hundred billion dollars worth of weapons… So we do need to ask, is Saudi Arabia a good ally?”
Actually, no we don’t, because the only thing that matters is that Saudi Arabia has properly greased the palms of every single politicians in the US, not to mention the Clinton Foundation, and as a result whatever Saudi Arabia wants, it will get, especially under president Hillary Clinton.
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