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  • U.S. President Donald Trump and Saudi Deputy Crown Prince and Minister of Defense Mohammed bin Salman meet at the White House in Washington.

    U.S. President Donald Trump and Saudi Deputy Crown Prince and Minister of Defense Mohammed bin Salman meet at the White House in Washington. | Photo: Reuters

Published 23 May 2019

The Trump administration could avoid Congress altogether by citing rising tensions with Iran to call on emergency provisions.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s top officials are getting ready to bypass Congress using a legal loophole in order to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia, amid rising tensions with Iran.

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US Senate Rejects Veto Override of Yemen War Resolution

“I am hearing that Trump may use an obscure loophole in the Arms Control Act and notice a major new sale of bombs to Saudi Arabia (the ones they drop in Yemen) in a way that would prevent Congress from objecting. Could happen this week,” Senator Chris Murphy (D) warned Wednesday on Twitter.

This comes after the U.S. Senate and House approved a bipartisan resolution in February and March, using the 1973 War Powers Act to end U.S. support for the Saudi-led coalition in the war in Yemen, and rebuffing President Donald Trump's policy toward the kingdom. Trump vetoed the congressional resolution, but any sale of weapons would still need congressional approval. 

However, the Trump administration could avoid Congress altogether by citing rising tensions with Iran in order to call on emergency provisions. If a national emergency is declared, Trump would justify selling weapons to Saudi Arabia by arguing that the Kingdom is a strategic partner in the region. 

According to a report from the University Network for Human Rights (UNHR) and Yemeni monitoring group Mwatana, the U.S. — and U.K. — made weapons have killed or maimed nearly 1,000 civilians in Yemen, including children and women, since the start of the war in 2015. 

Dubbed the “Forgotten War,” the Yemeni civil war started on March 26, 2015, when Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates led a coalition of countries into a military campaign against Ansar Allah (Houthi) rebels in Yemen in support of the Saudi-backed government of Abd-Rabu Mansour Hadi. 

The war in Yemen has already, according to a United Nation’s report, claimed 230,000 lives, many of those civilian, and has left almost 14 million people at increased risk of famine. “At least 85,000 children may have died of hunger and preventable diseases,” General Director of Pax International Jan Gruiters said. 

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