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Ilhan Omar

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) said on November 10, 2021 that she is trying to block the sale of U.S. weapons to Saudi Arabia. (Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Ilhan Omar Is Working to Stop 'Unacceptable' $650 Million Weapons Sale to Saudi Arabia

Other prominent Democrats also oppose further arming the country, arguing that "the only way to truly protect people in the region is to bring the war in Yemen to an end."

Jessica Corbett

Congresswoman Ilhan Omar said Wednesday that she is working on legislation to stop a $650 million missile sale to Saudi Arabia that the U.S. State Department announced last week.

Criticism of the weapons sale has mounted since the State Department notified Congress that it approved the deal, with anti-war activists and other progressives accusing the Biden administration of breaking promises and exacerbating the Saudi-led war in Yemen.

Echoing those critiques Wednesday, Omar (D-Minn.) tweeted that "selling weapons to Saudi Arabia while they continue to slaughter Yemenis is unacceptable. If we truly believe in putting human rights at the center of our foreign policy we would not be arming human rights abusers."

Omar's tweet about legislation to prevent the Raytheon missiles and launchers from reaching Saudi Arabia came as other prominent House Democrats also blasted the sale—which doesn't require congressional approval but can be blocked by federal lawmakers.

Reps. Colin Allred (D-Texas), Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), Sara Jacobs (D-Calif.), Andy Kim (D-N.J.), Tom Malinowski (D-N.J.), Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), and Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) on Wednesday issued a joint statement asserting that "the only way to truly protect people in the region is to bring the war in Yemen to an end."

The statement highlighted that while the war in Yemen "has now claimed thousands of lives and remains a devastating humanitarian disaster," the Biden administration has taken supposed steps to promote peace in the region.

A week after taking office in January, President Joe Biden imposed a temporary freeze on arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. In early February, Biden announced his administration would cut off U.S. support for "offensive operations" in the Saudi-led war on Yemen and appoint a diplomatic envoy.

The Democrats said Wednesday that "while the administration has suspended offensive weapons sales, it continues to provide logistical support and spare parts that permit an escalation of offensive Saudi Air Force operations in Yemen. That needs to stop."

"We urge the administration to review the efficacy of its offensive weapons freeze and consider additional steps to bring about a cessation of airstrikes against belligerents in Yemen's civil war," the lawmakers added, while also vowing that they will strengthen provisions in the next annual National Defense Authorization Act "intended to help bring about an end to this conflict."

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