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OPINION

Arms Sales to KSA, UAE

US Admin Must Stop The Dreadful Game

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10th-Jul-2019       
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Saleem Samad :
United States President Donald Trump wants to sell $8bn of more weapons to Saudi Arabia and UAE, despite opposition in Capitol Hill and concern raised by International Rights Organisations about two Arab countries waged a brutal war against Yemen.
It was reported that Trump officials are considering using a legal loophole to export arms to Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates fighting against Houthi rebels for more than four years.
President Trump will claim that Saudi Arabia and the UAE have been facing repeated attacks from Houthi rebels, a loophole in weapons export law to declare an emergency allowing the Executive Branch to sell arms without congressional sign-off if "an emergency exists which requires the proposed sale in the national security interest of the United States."
The US previously sold weapons to the Saudis through the normal process. In May 2017, Trump Administration and Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud signed a series of letters of intent for the Kingdom to purchase arms from the US totaling US$110 billion immediately and $350 billion over 10 years.
There's also the fact that introducing more weapons to the war will likely worsen a catastrophic situation.
Many analysts argue that the US sending more munitions to Saudi Arabia and UAE would not do much to tip the scales of the fight - but could imperil the lives of millions of people in Yemen already suffering from wounds, famine, and disease.
The Yemen war has raged since 2015, with the US supporting the Saudi-Emirati coalition has already claimed tens of thousands of lives; some estimates indicate that at least 60,000 people have died.
If Trump succeeds in getting around Congress in the Capitol Hill, Washington DC, these weapons sales will prolong suffering in Yemen and eliminate one of the last levers that allowed the US to exert influence over Saudi and Emirati actions.
UAE has its Special Forces all over the region and is currently conducting an air war against the Houthis in Yemen, with Saudi Arabia, that has likely committed war crimes by killing many civilians and confining several others in secret prisons inside Yemen. Reuters news agency found evidence of torture in prisoners and appalling conditions of makeshift jails.
Trump's comments made one thing extremely clear. He cares less much about defending human rights. His Administration has long prioritised weapons sales over human rights.
Earlier in June, a bipartisan group of senators said they would try to block the administration from going ahead with the sales.
The two senators agree on one thing that Saudi Arabia should face more scrutiny of its actions in Yemen after Saudi agents murdered the journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October.
Since then, members of Congress have tried to win confidence of the Trump Administration to reexamine its alliance with the Kingdom - especially its relationship with Mohammed bin Salman, the brash and ruthless crown prince often considered an architect of the Yemen war, despite a CIA assessment that concluded, with "high confidence", that Prince Salman ordered the killing of Khashoggi.
Prince Salman and a protégé of Muhammed bin Zayed, the undemocratic ruler of UAE - seems to have gone rogue.
The regime in UAE has also helped Saudi Arabia impose a trade embargo on Qatar, which has friendly relations with Iran - the regional archrival of those two nations. Unfortunately, the two Arab nations did not dare hostility with Turkey, another ally with US, a critic of Saudi Arabia and has excellent relationship with Iran.

(Saleem Samad, is a journalist, recipient of Ashoka Fellow (USA) and Hellman-Hammett Award, also Bangladesh correspondent of Paris based international media rights organization, Reporters Without Borders (RSF). Twitter @saleemsamad; Email: saleemsamad@hotmail.com)

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