Defying Congress, Trump sets over $8 billion in weapons sales to Saudi Arabia, UAE May 26, 2019 0 695 12345 ReutersWASHINGTONUS President Donald Trump, declaring a national emergency because of tensions with Iran, swept aside objections from Congress on Friday to complete the sale of over $8 billion worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan.The Trump administration informed congressional committees that it will go ahead with 22 military sales to the Saudis, United Arab Emirates and Jordan, infuriating lawmakers by circumventing a long-standing precedent for congressional review of major weapons sales. Members of Congress had been blocking sales of offensive military equipment to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates for months, angry about the huge civilian toll from their air campaign in Yemen, as well as human rights abuses such as the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at a Saudi consulate in Turkey.Lawmakers and congressional aides warned earlier this week that Trump, frustrated with Congress holding up weapons deals including the sale of bombs to Saudi Arabia, was considering using a loophole in arms control law to go ahead by declaring a national emergency. “President Trump is only using this loophole because he knows Congress would disapprove... There is no new ‘emergency’ reason to sell bombs to the Saudis to drop in Yemen, and doing so only perpetuates the humanitarian crisis there,” said Senator Chris Murphy.Murphy, a Democrat, made public on Twitter on Wednesday that Trump was considering the loophole in the Arms Control Export Act to clear the sales.Several of Trump’s fellow Republicans, as well as Democrats, said they would object to such a plan, fearing that blowing through the “holds” process would eliminate Congress’ ability to check not just Trump but future presidents from selling weapons where they liked.Representative Mike McCaul, the top Republican on the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, said the administration’s action was “unfortunate” and likely to damage future White House interactions with Congress.“I would have strongly preferred for the administration to utilize the long-established and codified arms sale review process,” McCaul said in a statement.US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement that US partners in the Middle East needed the contracts to be completed to help deter Iran, and that the decision to circumvent Congress was meant to be a “one-time event.” It is not the first time Congress and Trump have clashed over policy in the region, or the division of powers between the White House and Capitol Hill. The House and Senate voted to end US military support for the campaign in Yemen earlier this year, but Trump vetoed the resolution. RELATED ARTICLES Race for British PM post begins after May’s decision to quit May 26, 2019 0 723 EU in key vote as far right seeks blow to Macron May 26, 2019 0 191 France hunts suspect after Lyon bomb ‘attack’ May 26, 2019 0 198 Greek coast guard seizes 33 migrants off Aegean island dpa Athens The Greek coast guard said Saturday that one of its patrol boats intercepted a motorized rubber boat off the coast of Agathonisi island with 33 migrants on board. The small island, south of Samos, is a favoured .. Global tribunal tells Moscow to free Ukrainian sailors AFP Berlin An international tribunal on Saturday urged Russia to release “immediately” 24 Ukrainian sailors seized last November off the Crimea peninsula. “The Russian Federation must proceed immediately to release .. Thousands of Croatians rally against abortion AFP Zagreb Thousands of anti-abortion marchers took to the streets on Saturday in three cities around Croatia, a largely Catholic country where activists say reproductive rights are increasingly under threat. In .. At least 29 inmates killed in clashes at Venezuela jail AFP Caracas At least 29 prisoners were killed and 19 police wounded in clashes at a jail in western Venezuela Friday, authorities said. The incident at the police station jail in the town of Acarigua, in Portuguesa state, ..