Ilhan Omar is 'working on' stopping $650m arms sale to Saudi Arabia

Ilhan Omar is 'working on' stopping $650m arms sale to Saudi Arabia
Ilhan Omar says she is 'working on legislation' to stop a $650 million weapons sale to Saudi Arabia, amid concerns about the kingdom’s actions in the Yemen war.
2 min read
11 November, 2021
Ilhan Omar made the remarks in response to a tweet critical of US arms sales [Getty]

US Congresswoman llhan Omar says she is “working on legislation” to stop a $650 million weapons sale to Saudi Arabia amid concerns about the kingdom’s actions Yemen.

Responding to a Twitter post critical of US President Joe Biden’s decision to sell arms to Saudi Arabia, the Somali-American congresswoman wrote:

“Agree. Selling weapons to Saudi Arabia while they continue to slaughter Yemenis is unacceptable. If we truly believe in putting human rights at the centre of our foreign policy we would not be arming human rights abusers. Working on legislation to stop this sale this week.”

Omar has been a consistent critic of Saudi’s involvement in the Yemen war, and earlier this year called for an end to the kingdom’s blockade of the country’s major airport and seaport, citing what many experts have said is causing a “humanitarian crisis”.

Last week, the US president approved a $650m sale of air-to-air missiles to Saudi Arabia, in what is Biden’s first major arms sale to the Gulf kingdom.

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The decision drew criticism, particularly as Biden had previously pledged to put an end to US support for Saudi Arabia’s “offensive operations” in Yemen, including through “relevant arms sales”.

The State Department has insisted that the missiles recently sold are “not used to engage ground targets”.

“We’ve seen an increase in cross-border attacks against Saudi Arabia over the past year,” the department added.

“Saudi AIM-120C missiles, deployed from Saudi aircraft, have been instrumental in intercepting these attacks that also [put] US forces at risk and over 70,000 US citizens in the Kingdom at risk.”

Yemen's civil war began in 2014 when the Houthis gained control of the capital Sanaa, 120 kilometres west of Marib, prompting Saudi-led forces to intervene in 2015 to prop up the government of Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi.

Tens of thousands of people have died and millions have been displaced, in what the United Nations calls the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

The UN Security Council last week called for "de-escalation" in Yemen, in an unanimously adopted statement to counter "the growing risk of large-scale famine" in the country.