The House Committee on Foreign Affairs voted 25 to 17 in favor of a resolution that would prevent the US military from providing any support to the Arab alliance in the war on Yemen led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
Democratic Rep. Elliott Angel, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, expressed his concern over a report that Saudi Arabia and the UAE had sent weapons to extremist groups in Yemen, and wondered whether Congress should consider further restrictions on arms sales to the coalition in the war on Yemen.
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, its main partner in the Yemen war coalition, have transferred US-made weapons to al-Qaeda-linked militants and other armed groups, and some weapons have reached Iranian-backed rebels, which revealed a sensitive technology to the Islamic Republic, CNN reported on Monday.
“These reports are very troubling and the Trump administration must investigate further and work to prevent this from happening again,” Engel, a Democratic Representative, said at Wednesday’s hearing.
“Should Congress pursue greater restrictions on offensive weapons to the Saudi coalition?” asked Engel, who as chairman has the right to review and put “holds” on major foreign weapons sales.
“We are aware of these reports and seeking additional information,” a state department official said, adding that all such reports are taken seriously.
Angel’s criticism and a number of other members of the Committee represent the latest frustration expression of US Congress members of Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
Members of Congress expressed their anger at the increase in civilian deaths in Yemen, human rights abuses and the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist lived in the United States, in his country’s Turkish consulate in Turkey last October.
Amnesty International also accused the United Arab Emirates of supplying arms to Yemeni militias suspected of war crimes.
Amnesty published an investigation “shows that the UAE has become a major conduit for armored vehicles, mortar systems, rifles, pistols, and machine guns” the NGO said, noting that it was “illicitly diverted to unaccountable militias accused of war crimes and other serious violations.”
Late last year, Congress members introduced a number of decisions resolutions aimed at further restricting of U.S. dealings with Riyadh, including reducing arms sales, halting military cooperation with the and sanctioning Saudi-led coalition in Yemen for human rights abuses.
But the Trump administration has rejected many of these decisions resolutions, describing the Saudis as important partners in the region, and arms sales as an important source of jobs for Americans.
The majority of European countries, like Germany, Norway, Denmark, Norway, and the Netherlands, have decided to stop selling arms to the Saudi-UAE alliance in its war against Yemen and its war crimes against civilians.