A set of bills that would have restricted future arms sales from the United States to the kingdom of Saudi Arabia was vetoed by President Donald Trump earlier this week, who suggested the measures would have been detrimental to the relationship between the two countries.
Congress passed the bills due to anger over casualty counts and U.S. involvement in the war in Yemen, of which Saudi Arabia is a principal actor within, The Guardian reported. The bills were also justified in part due to a desire by lawmakers to condemn the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was killed by Saudi agents in Turkey after he wrote several opinion articles criticizing the monarchy.
Last month, billions of dollars in arms sales were contracted between the two governments. The Trump administration bypassed Congress completely over the deal, citing an emergency need to do so in order to respond to escalating tensions with Iran. Saudi Arabia and Iran are two states that are in opposition to one another, and the U.S. would likely request help from Saudi Arabia in the event that tensions rose to the point of requiring military intervention.
Trump responded to criticisms against his vetoes, arguing that the administration was focused on finding ways to address the situation in Yemen without hurting relations with Saudi Arabia, CNN reported.
“The United States is very concerned about the conflict’s toll on innocent civilians and is working to bring the conflict in Yemen to an end,” Trump said. “But we cannot end it through ill-conceived and time-consuming resolutions that fail to address its root causes.”
The Trump administration had what many considered to be questionable contacts with the Saudis after news of Khashoggi’s murder went global. Presidential adviser Jared Kushner, who is also Trump’s son-in-law, reportedly gave Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman advice over how to “weather the storm” following reports of the journalist’s gruesome murder, previous reporting from HillReporter.com detailed.