Defense News: US Lawmaker Skeptical of Arms Sale to Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Lebanon

June 15, 2017
In The News

WASHINGTON — U.S. lawmakers on both sides of the aisle laid bare their suspicions about U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Lebanon over the countries’ supposed links to terror on Thursday, perhaps signaling choppy waters in the alliances.

Days after the Senate vote to block smart-bomb sales to Riyadh narrowly failed, members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee's Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade Subcommittee grilled the Trump administration’s top officials for foreign military sales on the wisdom of a larger $110 billion deal with Saudi Arabia. 
 
How does the U.S. hold Saudi Arabia accountable for civilian casualties in its war against Yemen’s Houthi rebels? Democrats pressed Tina Kaidanow, acting assistant secretary for political-military affairs, and Vice Adm. Joseph Rixey, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency’s outgoing director, on the question. The U.S. has reportedly been offering logistical and intelligence support to the Saudi-led coalition in the war.
 
“I don’t have a problem helping Saudi Arabia, but many members of Congress, on a bipartisan, bicameral basis, do have a significant problem when the Saudi-led military coalition is committing war crimes in Yemen,” said Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., referencing reports from Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.
 
“It freaked out our State Department so much that last year that State Department lawyers initiated a review to see if U.S. personnel or others would be liable for war crimes,” Lieu said. “The [Obama administration's] State Department stopped a sale of precision-guided munitions. The [Trump administration's] State Department has reversed. What changed?”