The Senate on Wednesday will vote on a joint resolution blocking a $1.15 billion sale of as many as 153 tanks, hundreds of machine guns and additional military equipment to Saudi Arabia, over objections by Republican Senators Rand Paul and Mike Lee and Democratic Senators Chris Murphy and Al Franken to the Kingdom’s handling of the Yemen situation. Senators Paul and Murphy said they think the US needs to rethink its “automatic support” for the Saudis, Reuters reported.
State Department Spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau said on Tuesday that she was “very concerned” about reports of Saudi-led coalition warplanes bombing a potato factory in Yemen’s capital Sana, killing 14 people, mostly women. Trudeau would not say, however, whether the US is concerned that its weapons are being used to target civilians.
“We regularly talk to our partners and our allies around the world. You know, civilian casualties are obviously of grave concern to us,” she said.
Backers of the joint resolution told Reuters they want to block the sale of Abrams tanks and other equipment, noting that even if their measure did not pass, a strong Senate vote would send a strong message about US continued support for Saudi Arabia. Senator Murphy even said supporting the Saudi war against Yemen would damage US security.
“If we are helping to radicalize Yemenis against us, we are participating in the slaughter of civilians, and we are allowing extremist groups that have plans and plots against the United States to grow stronger, how can that be in our security interest?” Murphy asked, according to Reuters.