Jul 27, 2019

Trump replenishes Saudi arsenal by vetoing arms sale blocks

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Data: SIPRI Arms Transfers Database; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

President Trump vetoed 3 bipartisan resolutions that would have blocked more than $8 billion in arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates on Wednesday.

Why it matters: These sales would "replenish part of the Saudi arsenal that lawmakers say has been used against civilians in Yemen’s civil war," per the Washington Post. Trump's relationship with Saudi Arabia has been one area of sustained bipartisan backlash, due in part to the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the hands of the Saudi government and the Saudi-led war in Yemen.

The big picture: The U.S. is the world's top arms exporter, competing directly with Russia and increasingly China in a global market that's worth upwards of $89 billion annually. Saudi Arabia is currently the No. 1 buyer of U.S. weapons. Arms deals tie ethics to economics, and they can exacerbate geopolitical tensions in high-risk areas like Yemen and North Korea.

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Senate fails to override Trump veto of ban on Saudi weapon sales

Trump and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Photo: Bernd von Jutrczenka/picture alliance via Getty Images

The Senate on Monday failed to override President Trump's veto of three resolutions seeking to block U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia, falling 22 votes short of the necessary two-thirds majority.

Why it matters: The initial passage of the resolutions marked yet another bipartisan rebuke of the administration's close relationship with Saudi Arabia, which has come under increased scrutiny in the months since the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the hands of the Saudi government. Trump, in vetoing the resolutions, argued that they "would weaken America's global competitiveness and damage the important relationships we share with our allies and partners."

Go deeperArrowJul 29, 2019

Khashoggi killing: Judge orders federal agencies release records

Journalist Jamal Khashoggi at an event in Istanbul, Turkey, in 2018. Photo: Omar Shagaleh/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

A judge in New York ordered federal agencies Tuesday to urgently release thousands of pages of documents related to the 2018 killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Turkey, AP reports.

Why it matters: President Trump and members of his administration including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have publicly stood by the Saudis after Khashoggi's death last year, despite the CIA's assessment that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the murder.

Go deeperArrowAug 7, 2019

Report: Trump associate leveraged White House ties to push Saudi nuclear plan

Tom Barrack. Photo: Michael Kovac/Getty Images

A report from the House Oversight Committee released Monday found that Trump associate Tom Barrack sought powerful positions in the administration at the same time he was promoting U.S. corporate and foreign interests that would benefit from the transfer of nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia.

What we know: Barrack is a successful businessman who oversaw Trump's inaugural committee and has significant real estate dealings in the Gulf region, including with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The report states that "private parties with close ties to the President wield[ed] outsized influence over U.S. policy towards Saudi Arabia," naming Barrack as "one of the key individuals leveraging his close ties to President Trump and the Administration to promote his own interests."

Go deeperArrowJul 29, 2019