‘Comical & tragic’ when US officials say arms sales to Saudis are about ‘exporting human rights’

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It was truly baffling to hear a grilled US official claim during a Senate hearing that the sales of weapons to Saudi Arabia are a ‘manifestation’ of exporting human rights and open society, an anti-war activist told RT.

R. Clarke Cooper, the US State Department’s assistant secretary for political-military affairs, was grilled during a hearing at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday. Defending arms sales to Saudi Arabia, he said that the deal itself means more than just selling weapons.

“Our policy is not just limited to arms transfers. It is a manifestation of what else we export: open society, human rights. That is a part of our policy,” he said. The official added that Washington does not cut security ties with partners like Riyadh that carry “so much weight for our interests.”

Cooper’s comments were out of touch and did not make much sense, anti-war activist Medea Benjamin told RT.

It is “tragic” that high-ranking officials “get away with saying such ridiculous things” in Congress, Benjamin said.

In May, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo invoked his rarely-used emergency powers to authorize $8.1 billion in arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE, despite growing concerns among lawmakers that the acquired weapons could be used against civilians in Yemen. In response to Pompeo’s move, the Senate voted to block the deal.

“It’s a very dangerous slope when the [US president’s] administration can go around Congress and not even give them notification of weapons sales,” Benjamin said. The attempts to bypass lawmakers when it comes to big weapons deals, however, are hardly surprising, she added.

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