Amid Human Rights Questions, Senate Rubber Stamps Trump’s Half Billion Dollar Saudi Arms Deal (VIDEO)
The Saudi Weapons Deal
President’s Trump recent visit to Saudi Arabia was seen as an attempt to repair the relationship between the Arab nation and the United States. Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud was said to be excited about the trip, Trump’s harsh rhetoric against Iran, and the $110 billion defense deal Trump signed during his visit.
The move led to Senators Al Franken (D-MN), Chris Murphy (D-CN), and Rand Paul (R-KY) to introduce a resolution condemning $500 million of the deal, disproving of the sale of precision-guided weapons to Saudi Arabia. The Senators disproved of Saudi Arabia using United States weapons against civilians in Yemen. The human rights organization Human Rights Watch accuses parties of the conflict in Yemen of committing war crimes:
The Saudi Arabia-led coalition has carried out military operations, supported by the United States and United Kingdom, against Houthi forces and forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh since March 2015. The coalition has unlawfully attacked homes, markets, hospitals, schools, civilian businesses, and mosques. As of October 10, 2016, at least 4,125 civilians had been killed and 6,711 wounded, the majority by coalition airstrikes, according to the United Nations human rights office.
Amnesty International has also released reports outlining the abuses happening in Yemen:
All parties to the continuing armed conflict committed war crimes and other serious violations of international law with impunity. The Saudi Arabia-led coalition supporting the internationally recognized Yemeni government bombed hospitals and other civilian infrastructure and carried out indiscriminate attacks, killing and injuring civilians. The Huthi armed group and forces allied to it indiscriminately shelled civilian residential areas in Ta’iz city and fired artillery indiscriminately across the border into Saudi Arabia, killing and injuring civilians.
Huthi and allied forces severely curtailed the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly in areas they controlled, arbitrarily arresting critics and opponents, including journalists and human rights defenders, forcing NGOs to close. They subjected some detainees to enforced disappearance and to torture and other ill-treatment. Women and girls continued to face entrenched discrimination and other abuses, including forced marriage and domestic violence. The death penalty remained in force; no information was publicly available on death sentences or executions.
The Motion to Discharge vote; which would have forced a vote within the Senate of whether to block the $500 million portion of the defense bill failed to pass by a 53-47 vote. Senate Democrats who voted against the measure were Joe Donnelly (IN), Joe Manchin (WV), Claire McCaskill (MO), Bill Nelson (FL), and Mark Warner (VA).
Republicans who voted for the measure were Dean Heller (NV), Rand Paul (KY), and Todd Young (IN).
Saudi Arabia’s Link To Wahhabi Terrorism
Senator Chris Murphy released a strongly worded statement after the measure failed in the Senate:
A bipartisan coalition of Senators just sent a major message to the Saudis. Today’s vote total would’ve been unthinkable not long ago, but Congress is finally taking notice that Saudi Arabia is using U.S. munitions to deliberately hit civilian targets inside Yemen. They’re purposely creating a humanitarian crisis inside Yemen to bring the Houthis and Saleh to the negotiating table, and in the process the Saudis are making terrorist groups like al Qaeda and ISIS stronger.
The United States has no business supporting a war that has only served to embolden our terrorist enemies, exacerbate a humanitarian crisis, and incite fear and anger among the Yemeni people toward the United States. This will come back to haunt us.
Saudi Arabia has been linked to the spread of the stringent and extreme fundamental ideology of Wahhabism. Ahmed Ali, a Shi’a Muslim from Saudi Arabia described Wahhabism as the following when speaking to PBS Frontline:
The religious curriculum in Saudi Arabia teaches you that people are basically two sides: Salafis [Wahhabis], who are the winners, the chosen ones, who will go to heaven, and the rest. The rest are Muslims and Christians and Jews and others.
They are either kafirs, who are deniers of God, or mushrak, putting gods next to God, or enervators, that’s the lightest one. The enervators of religion who are they call the Sunni Muslims who … for instance, celebrate Prophet Mohammed’s birthday, and do some stuff that is not accepted by Salafis.
And all of these people are not accepted by Salafi as Muslims. As I said, “claimant to Islam.” And all of these people are supposed to be hated, to be persecuted, even killed. And we have several clergy — not one Salafi clergy — who have said that against the Shi’a and against the other Muslims. And they have done it in Algeria, in Afghanistan. This is the same ideology. They just have the same opportunity.
During the interview Ali would continue by calling Wahhabism, “..a faith of hate.”
Video Of Damage Down By Saudi-Coalition Airstrikes in Yemen Against Civilian Buildings
Senator Bernie Sanders Speaks out About Arming Saudi Arabia
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Walter Yeates is a journalist who has covered Anonymous and was embedded with Veterans Stand For when they traveled to Standing Rock. He is also an advocate for the modern day gentleman. His work has been featured on Huffington Post, Elite Daily, GirlTalkHQ, and may other sites.