Just weeks after the announcement of a controversial arms package to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the Trump Administration has notified Congress of an additional $290 million in proposed munitions sales
to Saudi Arabia.
The sale, for 3,000 GBU-39 Small Diameter Bombs, includes very same sorts of munitions that have been used to devastating effect
in the Saudi-Led war in Yemen, where coalition airstrikes have killed scores of civilians and decimated the civilian infrastructure of the already impoverished country.
Arms sales to members of the Saudi-led coalition have catalyzed an increasingly robust response from lawmakers and civil society. In 2019, Congress passed joint resolutions of disapproval
for arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE after the Trump administration circumvented traditional notification processes through the use of an emergency declaration. Though the resolutions were vetoed, it marked an important moment for lawmakers and indicated their willingness to expand their authority over U.S. arms transfers.
In December, sales of armed drones, advanced fighter jets, and thousands of munitions to the UAE drew a similar response from Congress
. Though efforts to block the sales failed, the message of opposition was clear and could be seen as a signal to the incoming Biden administration, which has promised to reconsider weapons transfers
to countries like Saudi Arabia.
The recent Sale to Saudi Arabia caps a record year for the Trump Administration’s arms exports, with more than $130 billion in Foreign Military Sales notified to Congress. Many of those sales have come after Trump’s electoral defeat. Advocates looking to the incoming Biden Administration to impose stronger safeguards
on U.S. arms transfers will be watching early actions on these most recent sales as a signal of things to come.