As tensions with Iran have escalated, President Trump wanted to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan. But, he knew Congress won’t approve his decision, so on Friday the president announced he was going to declare a national emergency, allowing him to sell the foreign governments around $8 billion worth of weapons. Included in the sale were precision guided bombs, as well as other types of bombs and ammunitions and related equipment. The president also ordered 1500 troops to the Middle East, according to the New York Times.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wrote in a letter justifying the decision to Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman James Risch (R-ID), saying, “I have determined that an emergency exists which requires the proposed sale in the national security interest of the United States, and, thus, waives the congressional review requirements.”
Risch said he was “reviewing and analyzing the legal justification for this action and the associated implications,” CBS News reported.
But Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) went further and said in a statement that the move may have violated the law. “I am disappointed, but not surprised, that the Trump Administration has failed once again to prioritize our long term national security interests or stand up for human rights, and instead is granting favors to authoritarian countries like Saudi Arabia… The Trump administration decided to do an end run around the Congress and possibly the law.”
In the wake of the brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi ordered, the CIA determined, by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, both parties in Congress voted to stop supporting the proxy war in Yemen, led by Saudi Arabia. Pompeo said the move to circumvent Congress was a “a one-time event.”
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Defense Department officials and National Security Advisor John Bolton are reported to be behind the aggressive Iran policy. “This is about deterrence, not about war,” Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan told reporters after a closed-door congressional briefing on Iran earlier this week.
But Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the United States is “playing a very, very dangerous game” with these moves. And Gen. Morteza Qorbani, an Iranian military advisor, told the news outlet Mizan after news of the sale went public, “If they commit the slightest stupidity, we will send these ships to the bottom of the sea along with their crew and planes using two missiles or two new secret weapons.”