Report: U.S. Senator Readies Legislation Against Saudi Arms Deal

A report claims that U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) will seek to block the potential sale of over $100 billion worth of military hardware to Saudi Arabia.

On May 19, 2017, a media organization called Big League Politics reported that Senator Paul was preparing a resolution that would block a proposed U.S. arms sale to Saudi Arabia.

The report stated, “Senator Rand Paul is promising to file a resolution of disapproval to block an arms deal with Saudi Arabia as soon as the administration formally notifies congress, Senate sources tell Big League Politics.”

U.S. President Donald Trump traveled to Saudi Arabia on May 19 for his first foreign visit as president. As part of that visit, the president offered Saudi Arabia an arms package worth around $110 billion.

After approving an arms sale, the U.S. State Department will notify the U.S. Congress. Typically, the State Department will begin informally notifying the Congress over a period of a little more than a month, prior to the formal notification. After the formal notification, the Congress has 30 days to decide if it wants to disprove a sale.

As of the time of writing, no confirmation of Senator Paul’s plans has been received. W4T reached out to the Senator’s press office for his position on the sale. Big League Politics is the media arm of an operation launched by Breitbart alumni.

Last month, Senator Paul wrote an Op-Ed for Rare in which he stated, “We have an unfortunate habit of arming foreign nations, only to discover that these supposed allies may be creating more enemies for America than they are killing.”

Senator Paul previously opposed the sale of M1A2S main battle tanks to Saudi Arabia, which carried an estimated value of $1.15 billion. That sale was approved by the State Department in August 2016.

In a statement regarding that tank sale, Senator Paul stated, “Selling $1.15 billion in tanks, guns, ammunition, and more to a country with a poor human rights record embroiled in a bitter war is a recipe for disaster and an escalation of an ongoing arms race in the region.”

Senator Paul referenced the conflict in Yemen, where Saudi Arabia is leading a coalition against Ansar Allah, a rebel group. Saudi Arabia has been accused of committing war crimes in its military campaign, which Riyadh denies.

Lawmakers failed to block that sale. However, pressure on then-president Barack Obama prompted the Administration to put a hold on the sale of precision-guided munitions to Saudi Arabia. President Donald Trump lifted that hold, which has generated concern among U.S. politicians.

Other U.S. lawmakers have announced opposition to the latest sale. Representative Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) issued a press release on May 20 condemning the arms deal.

About Derek Bisaccio

Military markets analyst, covering Eurasia, Middle East, and Africa.

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