Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi speaks to the press on June 13, 2019, during her weekly press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said that Congress will block President Donald Trump’s arms sales to Saudi Arabia, which has been carrying out a war of aggression against the impoverished people of Yemen since 2015.
Speaking at a forum in New York on Thursday night, Pelosi said the House of Representatives would soon vote to block the transfer of weapons to Saudi Arabia, America’s strongest ally in the Persian Gulf.
“There will be a vote to remove any authority to make those sales to Saudi Arabia,” Pelosi said during an interview with Fareed Zakaria hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations. “This is something that we will fight, and we’ll have bipartisan support to fight.”
The White House said last month it was making an emergency provision within the country’s arms control law to enable the billions of dollars of arms sales to the Saudi kingdom and the United Arab Emirates, the US’s strongest allies in the Persian Gulf. The recourse helps the president spare congressional review for the exports.
The Trump administration had cited “alleged threats from Iran” to justify resorting to the provision.
Trump has been accused of creating a “phony” emergency to bypass Congress to approve the $8 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia.
R. Clarke Cooper, the State Department’s assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs, appeared before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday where he was grilled over the $8 billion “’emergency” arms sale to Saudis.
Democratic members of the House committee said the president’s action violated the law because there was no actual emergency.
They also said Trump’s action shows that the United States is tolerating worst human rights abuses by Saudi Arabia in its war on Yemen.
“There is no emergency. It’s phony. It’s made up. And it’s an abuse of the law,” said Representative Eliot Engel, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
The US has been supporting a 2015-present Saudi-led war against Yemen that seeks to bring back the impoverished country’s former Riyadh-backed officials. The American patronage has featured aerial refueling, which the US only stopped earlier in the year after the Saudi-led coalition grew independent of it, as well as logistical and commando support.
Tens of thousands have died since the onset of the war, and the entire Yemen has been pushed close to the edge of outright famine.
A year after the war was launched, Trump made his maiden foreign visit to Saudi Arabia, announcing more than $100 billion in arms sales to the kingdom.
‘Follow the money’
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) holds her weekly news conference at the US Capitol on June 13, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
In her interview on Thursday night, Pelosi noted that Trump’s first trip abroad as president was to Saudi Arabia, where he struck the massive arms deal. She warned that Trump’s arms deal “includes nuclear technology that he is transferring to Saudi Arabia.”
“Follow the money. What’s going on here?” she said. “And there’s a question of who is financially benefiting from the nuclear part of the sales to Saudi Arabia. … The case against Saudi Arabia — in terms of Yemen, in terms of Khashoggi, in terms of so much — that they should not be receiving these weapons sales is very strongly bipartisan in the Congress.”
Pelosi also denounced Trump’s renewed war rhetoric accusations against Iran and his decision to pull out from the Iran nuclear deal negotiated under the Obama administration.
“I’m not going to accuse anybody of instigating anything, but we’re not having a policy that would smooth the waters, so to speak,” she added. “I think he probably knows that there’s no appetite for war among the American people.”