The Trump administration announced Friday that the “fundamental threat” posed by Iranian “malign activity” was justification enough to move forward with billions in emergency arms sales to Saudi Arabia and other countries without Congressional review.
Arms sales “totaling $8.1 billion” will move forward without congressional review to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a press release, citing section 36 of the Arms Export Control Act.
In a separate memo to Congress obtained by Al-Monitor, Reuters and others, Pompeo asserted “Iranian malign activity poses a fundamental threat to the stability of the Middle East and to American security at home and abroad.”
The equipment, Pompeo said, would “deter Iranian aggression and build partner self-defense capacity.”
“These sales will support our allies, enhance Middle East stability, and help these nations to deter and defend themselves from the Islamic Republic of Iran,” he added.
In a rare move earlier this year, both chambers of Congress voted to cut off U.S. military support for Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen. President Trump vetoed the effort.
Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement following Pompeo’s announcement that “I am disappointed, but not surprised, that the Trump Administration has failed once again to prioritize our long term national security interests or stand up for human rights, and instead is granting favors to authoritarian countries like Saudi Arabia.”
Warning ahead of time of the Trump administration’s plans, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) tweeted Wednesday: “To state the obvious, there is no new emergency reason to sell bombs to Saudi Arabia to drop in Yemen. The Saudis been dropping the bombs on civilians, so if there is an emergency, it’s a humanitarian emergency caused by the bombs we sell the Saudis.”
He kept up his criticisms on Saturday:
Totally misleading. Congress doesn’t approve sales so we didn’t “fail to act”. All we can do is disapprove, but that can’t happen until an arms sale is noticed. The Administration never noticed this sale – until Friday night when they used emergency powers to avoid our review. https://t.co/hEBfe2OuGb
— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) May 25, 2019