On Wednesday, the US House of Representatives has voted to block $8.1 billion arms sales to Saudi Arabia and other allies, a protest to President Donald Trump that is likely lead to a vote by the US President.
Lawmakers, most of whom are angered with the Kingdom over Riyadh’s role in the killing of Saudi Journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018, confirmed three resolutions that would avert the controversial sales declared under emergency measures earlier in 2018 by the US President.
The resolutions have blocked the sales have already cleared the US Senate, and now went to the White House, where President Trump is likely to issue a veto, the third of his Presidency.
While the White House has restricted the sales with a comfortable majority, it was around 50 votes shy of the two-thirds needed to disallow the veto of Donald Trump.
President Trump is looking for 22 distinct sales of aircraft support maintenance, other weapons,precision-guided munitions, and equipment of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Jordan at a moment of high tension in the Middle East.
Critics claim that the arms sales would irritate the devastating war in Yemen, where Saudi is leading a US-backed coalition in the fight against the Iranian-supported Huthi rebels, which the United Nations has prompt the worst humanitarian crisis across the globe.
The US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Enge said, “When we see what’s going on in Yemen, it’s so important for the United States to take a stand.”
A senior Democrat has agreed that the threats from the Iranian-backed Huthis were real “but that doesn’t mean we should just look the other way in the face of violence and the slaughter of civilians.”
Donald Trump’s Administration took the remarkable step of avoiding Congress to authorize the sale in May, as it declared Iran to be a “fundamental threat” to the stability of the Middle East.
The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had claimed that Trump’s Administration was replying to an emergency caused by Iran, which backed the Huthi rebels in Yemen.
Lawmakers, including some Senate Republicans have claimed that there were no legal grounds to avoid Congress, which has the right to disapprove the arms sales.
In June, Senator Lindsey Graham has delivered a hurt rebuke of the arms sales and Riyadh, claims he hoped the vote would “send a signal to Saudi Arabia that if you act the way you’re acting, there is no space for a strategic relationship.”
He further referred to the brutal murder of Journalist Khashoggi in Turkey at the hands of Saudi Arabia agents, an event that stimulates a full-blown crisis in the relationship of Riyadh with the West.
However, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Michael McCaul has criticized the resolution as “dangerous” at a time Iran is extending its reach.
“Iran is stretching its tentacles of terror across the Middle East,” said McCaul in a statement.
“If we allow them to succeed, terrorism will flourish, instability will reign, and the security of our allies, like Israel, will be threatened,” added McCaul.