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US lawmakers fail to block arms sales to Saudi Arabia

Weapons [File photo]

A $1.15 billion arms deal with Saudi will go ahead after the US Senate rejected a bipartisan proposal to block arms sales to the Gulf kingdom yesterday.

The Senate voted 71 to 27 to kill legislation that would have stopped the sale.

A deal that was approved the State Department for the sale of more than 130 Abrams battle tanks, 20 armoured recovery vehicles and other equipment to Saudi Arabia will go ahead.

Critics of the arms deal attempted to block the sale of arms to the kingdom over its 18-month-long war in Yemen and worries that it may have committed war crimes as well as the monarchy’s international support for a conservative form of Islam.

A vocal opponent of the deal, Senator Paul Murphy said: “If you’re serious about stopping the flow of extremist recruiting across this globe, then you have to be serious that the … brand of Islam that is spread by Saudi Arabia all over the world, is part of the problem.”

Meanwhile lawmakers are expected to back another measure seen as anti-Saudi, a bill that would allow lawsuits against the country’s government by relatives of victims of the September 11 attacks.

President Barack Obama has promised to veto the bill, but congressional leaders say there is a strong chance that lawmakers will override the veto and let the measure become law. Overriding a presidential veto requires a two-thirds vote in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

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