State Dept. approves $670 million arms deal with Saudi Arabia

US Materials 23 March 2018 05:07 (UTC +04:00)

The State Department said on Thursday that it had approved the sale of an estimated $670 million in anti-tank missiles to Saudi Arabia, just hours after Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met with Pentagon leaders to discuss the Saudi-led bombing campaign in Yemen, New York Times reports.

The proposed package includes up to 6,700 missiles made by Raytheon, as well as spare parts for American-made tanks and helicopters that Saudi Arabia already owns.

The proposed sale is bound to be questioned by Congress, where the Senate this week rejected a bipartisan effort to halt American military support for the bombing campaign in Yemen. The Trump administration strenuously protested the effort, and sent Pentagon and State Department officials to Capitol Hill last week to lobby against its passage.

In the end, the administration prevailed, and lawmakers from both parties shelved the measure for further debate by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. That it got that far demonstrates the increased frustration by Republicans and Democrats over Washington’s support for the Saudi campaign against Iranian-backed Houthis in Yemen, which has been roundly criticized by human rights organizations because of the large number of civilian casualties.

The State Department said in a statement that it had notified Congress on Thursday of the proposed arms sale. Lawmakers have 30 days to try to stop it.