WATCH: Congressman Andy Levin Grills State Department Official on the Administration’s “Emergency” Weapons Sale to Saudi Arabia and UAE
Congressman Andy Levin today questioned R. Clarke Cooper, the Assistant Secretary at the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, about the Administration’s decision to ignore opposition from Congress and declare an “emergency” to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Congressman Levin’s line of questioning refers to classified briefings conducted by Secretary Mike Pompeo on May 20th and 21st, during which Secretary Pompeo made no mention of an “emergency” that would force the Administration to circumvent Congress and sell weapons.
Today, Assistant Secretary Cooper testified that an emergency arose in between those briefings and the emergency announcement on May 24th. That means that in just three days, an emergency arose that forced the Administration to sell weapons to the Saudis and the UAE.
Questions remain about the legitimacy of the emergency, especially given that some weapons included in the sale have not yet been built and thus cannot be used to respond to a current threat.
Congressman Levin has repeatedly expressed alarm regarding the Administration’s ties to the Saudi government. The murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi-led war in Yemen, and the Kingdom’s disregard for human rights under Crown Prince Mohammad bin-Salman have raised serious concerns about the Saudis’ destabilizing behavior.
Earlier this year, Congressman Levin introduced a bipartisan resolution with Congressman Justin Amash (R-MI), H.Con.Res.23, that would hold any civilian nuclear deal between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia to the highest nonproliferation standard and ensure the deal doesn’t set the stage for a Saudi nuclear weapon.