Rand Paul Says He'll Try to Block Saudi Arms Sales Over Khashoggi Disappearance
Paul has long opposed U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia.
Sen. Rand Paul (R–Ky.) told a radio station today that he intends to try, once again, to block U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia. While the particular news hook this week is the Saudi government's possible complicity in the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Paul has long been opposed to the U.S. role in helping support, among other things, the corrupt and repressive regime's highly destructive war in Yemen.
Sen. Bob Menendez (D–N.J.) has also, Bloomberg reports, "notified the Trump administration he would use an informal procedure to block sales to Saudi Arabia because of his concern about the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen."
Paul told the Louisville station WHAS that he knows his position on this currently differs from the Trump administration's, "but who knows, the president may come around on this if there is any evidence they killed this journalist."
The Saudis insist that Khashoggi left their consulate in Turkey, where he is presumed by many to have been killed after entering to get a legal document related to his planned wedding.
Back in June 2017, Paul was a main sponsor of a symbolic Senate resolution opposing that year's $510 million weapons deal with Saudi Arabia. (The bill failed by a vote of 47–53.) The Senate has the power, via the 1976 Arms Export Control Act, to force a vote on presidential arms sales decisions within a 10-day period.
The Bloomberg story today notes that Sens. Bob Corker (R–Tenn.) and Lindsey Graham (R–S.C.) have also made noises that suggest they might be willing to rethink aspects of our support for Saudi Arabia over the Khashoggi matter.
The Saudi-led war on Yemen, with active cooperation from the U.S., has killed over 5,000 civilians, may be starving many millions more, has helped prop up Al Qaeda, and has generally damaged the nation in ways that could make it a cauldron of chaos for decades to come. Regardless of Khashoggi's fate, Paul is correct to do everything he can to stop the U.S. from enabling the mayhem there.