White House opposes Senate resolution banning sale of missiles to Saudi Arabia

The White House said on Tuesday it strongly opposes a Senate resolution that would ban the proposed sale of 280 advanced medium range air-to-air missiles to Saudi Arabia.

“[The Senate resolution] would undermine the president’s commitment to aid in our partner’s defenses at a time of increased missile and drone attacks against civilians in Saudi Arabia,” the White House Office of Management of Budget said in a statement.

The State Department had approved in November a $650 million deal to sell 280 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles and 596 Missile Rail Launchers to Saudi Arabia.

Since January, Yemen’s Houthis have launched dozens of cross-border aerial attacks on Saudi Arabia. The Iran-backed militia targeted civilian areas and energy facilities in the Kingdom with explosive-laden drones and ballistic missiles.

President Joe Biden’s administration has repeatedly stressed that it will support Saudi Arabia in defending itself against attacks by Yemen’s Houthis.

Republican Senator Rand Paul, Democratic Senator Bernie Sanders, and Republican Senator Mike Lee introduced a joint resolution to block the US arms sale to Saudi Arabia, accusing the Kingdom of instituting an “air and naval blockade” on Yemen.

“A message needs to be sent to Saudi Arabia that we don’t approve of their war with Yemen. By participating in this sale, we would not only be rewarding reprehensible behavior, but also exacerbating a humanitarian crisis in Yemen,” Paul said.

He added: “I urge Congress and the Biden Administration to consider the possible consequences of this sale that could accelerate an arms race in the Middle East and jeopardize the security of our military technologies.”

The joint resolution will be voted on in the Senate on Tuesday.

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