Technology & Trade

Yes, Congress, There Is Something You Can Do About Reckless Arms Sales

Arming the world’s worst human rights violators shouldn’t be something the United States does by default.
By Rachel Stohl Co-author

This article was originally published in Just Security.

Here we go again.

One year after bypassing Congress to sell over $8 billion in weapons to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and other countries, President Donald Trump is preparing to again push through more problematic arms sales. This time, it’s half a billion dollars’ worth of bombs that have been used in the past to kill children in Yemen.

The proposed sale would provide Saudi Arabia with 7,500 precision-guided missiles and allow the Kingdom to manufacture high-tech bomb parts, according to media reports. This comes despite the fact that Saudi Arabia has repeatedly used these and other U.S. weapons in targeted strikes that have killed and injured thousands of civilians and destroyed livelihoods in Yemen. It follows a Pentagon announcement in May approving the proposed sale of up to 4,569 Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles to the UAE, worth approximately $556 million. Both sales are particularly problematic given reports of unlawful retransfers and irresponsible, if not illegal, end use by both Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Weapons sold to both countries last year were reportedly illegally retransferred to al Qaeda-linked fighters, Salafi militias, and other armed factions. Official investigations into the retransfers have not been made public, but the State Department recently cleared the UAE of wrongdoing, announcing that “the UAE now has a better understanding of its EUM (End User Monitoring) obligations.”

Unfortunately, the administration’s latest effort to ignore congressional objections and accelerate arms sales like these is not a new phenomenon. As the New York Times reported last month, Raytheon bombs – such as the Paveway precision-guided munitions included in both proposed sales – have been tied to at least 12 Saudi attacks on civilians in Yemen, including bombings of weddings, funerals, schools, and hospitals. The Times investigation showed that U.S. arms sales – aggressively promoted by Trump’s inner circle – have “helped prolong a conflict that has killed more than 100,000 people in the Arab world’s poorest nation, further destabilizing an already volatile region.”

Read the full article in Just Security.

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