United Kingdom suspends new Saudi arms licences linked to Yemen conflict

Senator Robert Menendez seen here in April 2019 says the Senate will vote on blocking arms sales to Saudi Arabia

Senator Robert Menendez seen here in April 2019 says the Senate will vote on blocking arms sales to Saudi Arabia More

The US Senate has voted to block arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, dealing a blow to Donald Trump who had approved the deals in an emergency declaration without congressional oversight.

Thursday, lawmakers voted to stop the White House's attempt to expedite $8.1 billion in arms sales to the Gulf countries. Still the demonstration is a symbolic showing of the opposition - including from within Trump's own party - to the administration's relationship to Saudi Arabia, following the killing of Jamal Khashoggi past year.

Many lawmakers were also angered by the killing of US -based Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents at the country's consulate in Istanbul past year.

Kansas Republican Sen. Pat Roberts voted against the resolutions.

One of Trump's staunchest Senate supporters, Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said the administration can not ignore the will of Congress nor the behavior of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has been connected in Khashoggi's death.

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According to British media, weapons sold to Saudi Arabia include Typhoon and Tornado fighter jets, as well as precision-guided bombs.

Meanwhile, amid escalating tensions with Iran coloring the ongoing Saudi-led campaign in Yemen, the decisions have threatened the kingdom with losing its two largest arms suppliers, as both the USA and UK remain divided over selling arms to a regime responsible for perpetuating bloodshed in Yemen.

Backers of the resolutions, led by Democrat Bob Menendez and Republican Lindsey Graham, said they sent a bipartisan message to Saudi Arabia that Washington is not happy about human rights abuses, including the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at a Saudi consulate in Turkey.

A senior US State Department official declined to comment on the court ruling, but said both the United States and Britain had long-standing, deeply rooted security ties to Saudi Arabia, despite what he called certain "difficult situations".

The conflict in Yemen has killed thousands of civilians and left millions more on the brink of starvation. Trump's response is his intention to use the presidential veto on the decision.

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A United Kingdom court earlier found that Britain broke the law by allowing arms sales to Saudi Arabia that might have been used in Yemen's war.

The two disapproval resolutions passed the Senate by back-to-back votes of 53-45, but short of the two-thirds margin needed to override Trump's expected veto.

The Yemeni rebels have stepped up drone and missile attacks on Saudi Arabia in recent weeks, damaging oil infrastructure and injuring dozens of people at the civilian airport in the popular mountain resort of Abha.

"My relationship with Saudi Arabia is endlessly modified", he stated in a speech sooner than the votes.

"I want to be clear to my friends in Saudi Arabia and really throughout the world that a strategic relationship has certain requirements attached to it", said Sen.

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The Trump administration argues that Saudi Arabia needs additional support to counter Iran's influence in the region.

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