Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Corporate gatekeepers and big tech monopolists are making it more difficult than ever for independent media to survive. Please chip in today.

Rep. Ilhan Omar speaks at a press conference

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) speaks during a press conference in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota on April 20, 2021. (Photo: Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images)

Ilhan Omar Unveils Resolution to Block 'Unconscionable' Saudi Arms Sale

"We should never be selling human rights abusers weapons, but we certainly should not be doing so in the midst of a humanitarian crisis they are responsible for."

Jake Johnson

Rep. Ilhan Omar unveiled a resolution Friday aimed at blocking a Biden administration-approved sale of $650 million worth of missiles and other military equipment to the Saudi government, which has been bombing Yemen—often with U.S. weaponry—since 2015.

"Congress has the authority to stop these sales, and we must exercise that power."

Omar (D-Minn.), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a statement that "it is simply unconscionable to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia while they continue to slaughter innocent people and starve millions in Yemen, kill and torture dissidents, and support modern-day slavery."

"We should never be selling human rights abusers weapons, but we certainly should not be doing so in the midst of a humanitarian crisis they are responsible for," added Omar. "Congress has the authority to stop these sales, and we must exercise that power."

The U.S. State Department formally notified Congress of the weapons sale last week, meaning lawmakers now have less than a month to review it.

The new Saudi arms deal is the second that the administration has approved in recent weeks, leading anti-war critics to accuse President Joe Biden of reneging on his promise to end U.S. support for the regime's deadly assault on Yemen, where an estimated 11 million children are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.

According to Omar's office, the Biden administration's latest sale would give Saudi Arabia "280 advanced medium-range air-to-air missiles, along with 596 missile launchers, support equipment, spare parts, U.S. government and contractor engineering, and technical support." The Defense Security Cooperation Agency said in a statement that the "principal contractor" will be Raytheon, a massive weapons manufacturer.

Raed Jarrar, advocacy director for Democracy for the Arab World Now—an organization founded by murdered Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi—warned in a statement Friday that "these air-to-air missiles could be used in offensive operations or they could be used to enforce the Saudi blockade, which humanitarian aid groups have identified as one of the reasons behind the prices of medicine being out of reach for millions of Yemenis."

"Rather than selling more weapons," Jarrar added, "the Biden administration should compel Saudi Arabia to lift the blockade and end its war on Yemen.”

HuffPost reported Friday that progressive Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) has backed Omar's resolution, but it's unclear how much more support the measure will garner in the House. The Minnesota Democrat is currently working to find "an ally in the Senate to introduce matching legislation soon," according to the outlet.

"I can't understand how we would even contemplate [the sale] before they end their involvement in the Yemen war, before they lift the blockade, and before there's some consequences for MBS," said Khanna, referring to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who U.S. intelligence agencies believe approved the operation that led to Khashoggi's gruesome murder in 2018.

Biden has faced backlash from human rights groups for refusing to punish the crown prince for his alleged role in the killing.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Omar Leads Charge Against Baby Formula Monopolies Amid US Shortage

Democrats urge the FTC to probe "any unfair or unsustainable practices, like deceptive marketing, price gouging, and stock buybacks, that may be weakening our nutritional formula supply."

Jessica Corbett ·

'Arbitrary, Racist, and Unfair': Judge Blocks Biden From Ending Title 42

"Only the coyotes profiteering off of people seeking protection have reason to celebrate this ill-reasoned ruling," said one migrant rights advocate.

Brett Wilkins ·

'This Is a War' for Democratic Party's Future, Says Sanders of AIPAC's Super PAC

"They are doing everything they can to destroy the progressive movement in this country," said the senator.

Julia Conley ·

Ginni Thomas Pressed Arizona Lawmakers to Reverse Biden's 2020 Win: Report

"Clarence Thomas' continued service on the Supreme Court is a scandalous and appalling breach of judicial ethics," said one observer. "He is implementing the exact same theories that his wife used to try to steal the 2020 election for Trump."

Brett Wilkins ·

Millions More Kids Going Hungry Since GOP, Manchin Killed Expanded Child Tax Credit

"Even brief disruptions in access to food can have lasting consequences," wrote the authors of a new analysis of worsening hunger among U.S. families.

Kenny Stancil ·

Common Dreams Logo