Amnesty accuses UAE of diverting arms to 'militias' in Yemen

Evarado Alatorre
Febrero 9, 2019

Speaking to Senators on Tuesday, Centcom Commander Gen. Joseph Votel said that the USA needs to "look more closely" at reports that arms sent to Yemen to back the Saudi invasion ended up going to al-Qaeda and other Islamist factions. The discovery of weapons making their way into the hands of armed groups recognised as terrorist has raised fresh concerns over a key ally and is said to be a violation of agreements between Washington and the Gulf states.

Some arms may have also made their way into the hands of Iranian-backed Houthi rebels.

The United States foreign affairs committee chairman has said on Wednesday he heard stressful reports of Saudi Arabia supplying and transferring armed weapons to the extremist militant groups in Yemen and questioned whether the US Congress should further consider imposing some more restrictions over weapon sales to the Saudi Arabia-led coalition.

Democratic congressman Eliot Engel, who chairs the US House of Representatives' Foreign Affairs Committee, said on Wednesday he was troubled by reports about illicit weapons transfers in Yemen.

The State Department said it was investigating the allegations.

The weapons - including anti-tank missiles, armored vehicles, heat-seeking lasers and artillery - have been passed on, sold, stolen or abandoned in Yemen. The murder, which is believed to be politically motivated and allegedly ordered by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, prompted bipartisan pressure from Congress to hold Saudi Arabi accountable despite President Trump's interest in maintaining an arms deal.

The U.S. has helped fuel the disaster with weapons, logistical assistance, and refueling of aircraft so the Saudi-led coalition can wage its bombing campaign.

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President Donald Trump's administration opposed numerous bills, calling the Saudis important regional partners and praising weapons sales as an important source of U.S.jobs.

By handing off this military equipment to third parties, the Saudi-led coalition is breaking the terms of its arms sales with the U.S., according to the Department of Defence.

None of those bills became law, but Engel said the committee would continue to press for a response to casualties in Yemen, Khashoggi's killing and the imprisonment of women's rights activities. He said, "It can no longer be business as usual".

"This is our very first committee action and we're getting ready to take an action that is going to have detrimental consequences without really thinking it through", the Illinois Republican warned.

If Trump declined to sign the resolution, the measure would have to garner the two-thirds majority support in both the House and Senate needed to overcome a presidential veto.

In December, a similar bill cleared the Senate in a 56-41 vote but was blocked by the House, which was then under the control of Republicans.

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