2007-12-12 / Features

Weiner Blocks US, Saudi $20 B Arms Deal

After blocking the sale of $20 billion worth of high technology equipment to Saudi Arabia at the request of Congressmember Anthony Weiner, the State Department has agreed to allow Congress to thoroughly review the sale.

Weiner (D- Queens/Brooklyn) and a bipartisan group of 35 colleagues will have until January 15 to review the sale.

The controversial arms sale grew out of negotiations between the Saudi Arabian government and the United States which started last July. The package reportedly includes satellite guided bombs "accurate enough to shoot through the window of a building from jets in any weather", a Weiner release stated.

The sale would also upgrade the capability of the Saudi air force and provide new naval vessels, Weiner said.

Weiner and the co-sponsors drafted a Joint Resolution of Disapproval to block the sale and trigger the 30-day review process. The lawmaker plans to introduce the resolution "the minute Congress is officially notified of the sale".

Congress may reject any large arms sale, according to the Arms Control Export Act of 1976, Weiner explained. The president is required to officially notify Congress of an impending arms deal, and Congress then has 30 days to trigger a review and pass a resolution to reject the sale.

Weiner charged that Saudi Arabia has not been a true ally in the war on terror or in furthering U.S. interests in the Middle East. American officials in Iraq have said that almost half of all foreign fighters are Saudi, Weiner said, and the Saudi government permits the training of anti-U.S. terrorists and activist groups.

Last February, Weiner said, the Saudi Arabian government torpedoed U.S. plans to conduct a high-profile peace summit between Israel and the Palestinian Authority by brokering their own power-sharing agreement.

"And despite assurances to the contrary, Saudi Arabia appears to continue to bankroll terrorist organizations that have attacked both the United States and Israel," Weiner said. He cited statements by U.S. government officials that the Saudi government does nothing to stop anti-U.S. and Israeli interests.

"People of all political stripes have come out against this (arms) deal," Weiner stated. "It's mind-bogglingly bad policy because the Saudis at every turn have been uncooperative. The idea that we are going to reward the Saudis with precision weaponry is a stunningly bad idea and clearly deserves the full review of Congress."

- John Toscano

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