A bipartisan effort in the Senate is taking aim at arm sales to Saudi Arabia, in light of reports that the Gulf Kingdom has killed civilians in Yemen using U.S. weapons.
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) are behind a proposed resolution that would set conditions on the United States selling Saudi Arabia air-to-ground weapons. Numerous reports have emerged in recent months detailing Saudi Arabia’s use of U.S.-made weapons on civilians in Yemen, but the tipping point appears to have been when U.S. bombs were used in an air strike on a Yemeni market that killed at least 97 civilians, including 25 children, in mid-March.
Human Rights Watch released a report last week calling for the United States and coalition allies to halt arm sales to Saudi Arabia after it conducted an on-site investigation that found “remnants…of a GBU-31 satellite-guided bomb, which consists of a US-supplied MK-84 2,000-pound bomb mated with a JDAM satellite guidance kit, also US-supplied.”
Those findings, as well as repeated reports that the Saudi government is committing human rights violations, and possibly war crimes in Yemen, have caught the attention of U.S. Senators.
“I have yet to see evidence that the civil war we’re supplying and supporting in Yemen advances our national security,” Murphy said in a written statement. “The more it drags on, the clearer it becomes that our military involvement on behalf of the Saudi-led coalition is prolonging human suffering in Yemen and aiding the very groups that are intent on attacking us.”
The proposed legislation insists that Saudi Arabia and other coalition members take precautions to reduce the risk of killing civilians or attacking civilian infrastructure before being sold U.S. arms. “They also would have to facilitate humanitarian assistance in Yemen; show they are not providing funding, materiel support or lethal aid to designated foreign terrorist organizations; and take all necessary measures to target designated foreign terrorist organizations in Yemen,” the Hill reported.
“As the humanitarian crisis continues to deteriorate, anti-American sentiment is spiraling as the local population blames the U.S. for the thousands of civilian deaths resulting from the Saudis’ bombing campaign,” Murphy said. “This will come back to haunt us.”