The US Senate – in a rare bipartisan move – has voted to block arms sales to Saudi Arabia, strongly wanted by President Donald Trump in recent months, for a total value of eight billion dollars.
The White House tenant had strongly insisted on the deal to re-launch the axis with Riyadh after the chill of the last phase of the democratic administration led by predecessor Barack Obama.
Last month Trump had bypassed Congress in an attempt to speed up the finalization of the billion dollar contract. Among the reasons illustrated by the president, support for the Saudi ally in the face of the Iranian threat in the Middle East region.
With a joint decision between Democrats and Republicans, the Senate approved a resolution that prevents the sale. Trump’s response is his intention to use the presidential veto on the decision.
Now the decision falls to the Democrat Congress which will probably also vote to block the sale.
However, according to analysts and experts in Congress there are not enough votes needed to overturn the Trump veto and, therefore, the contract should eventually go through.
The first two resolutions passed were approved with 53 votes in favor and 45 against.
A third vote saw the margin shrink, with 51 in favor and 45 against. According to the agreement, the sale of weapons is valid both for Saudi Arabia and for the United Arab Emirates and Jordan.
Congress members also criticised Riyadh for human rights violations with civilian victims in the context of the Yemen conflict and for the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
In reference to the murder, in recent days a UN investigation called the involvement of the crown prince Mohammad bin Salman (Mbs), the main interlocutor of President Trump in the Middle Eastern region together with Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu, “credible”.
In a note released by the White House after the vote it is emphasised that the block to the sale is equivalent to an “abandonment” of the United States of its allies “at a time of growing threats.”