U.S. Senate Scrutinizes Precision-Guided Arms Package for Saudis

A proposed sale of $500 million worth of U.S. precision-guided missiles to Saudi Arabia is coming under growing scrutiny from Congress, according to reports, as a key vote looms in the U.S. senate today.

Foreign Policy magazine reports that the planned sale of munitions would replenish the kingdom’s depleted stocks after two years of daily bombing raids by a Saudi-led coalition in Yemen. However, human rights groups have said the coalition’s forces heavy toll on civilians and continuing deterioration of living conditions in the country is enough of a reason to hold back on the sale of additional weapons.

Saudi Arabia has sought to lobby senators to support more weapons sales, according to Foreign Policy.  Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, announced Thursday he would vote in favor of a resolution rejecting the arms deal. According to the Foreign Policy article, “Although it’s unlikely the resolution will secure a majority sufficient to block the sale, a significant number of senators castigating Saudi Arabia’s air campaign will send an uncomfortable message to Riyadh.”

In March, the Trump administration significantly increased its support for the coalition in Yemen. According to the Wall Street Journal, American support now includes “greater intelligence and logistical support for the militaries of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates,” the paper said, citing unnamed officials.

The war has already claimed at least 10,000 lives, displaced 3 million, and left millions more at risk of famine since it began in March 2015.

Senator Cardin accused the Trump administration of failing to do more to find a peaceful diplomatic solution to the situation in Yemen, according to a statement by the Senator.

“The administration’s decision to proceed with the sale of precision-guided munitions, absent leadership to push all parties toward a political process for a negotiated settlement, including Saudi Arabia, sends the absolutely wrong signal to our partners and our adversaries,” Cardin said in a statement.