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U.S. pushes for Saudi 'tangible' progress on Khashoggi probe

U.S. pushes for Saudi 'tangible' progress on Khashoggi probe

The Trump administration argues that Gulf allies need support to counter Iran's malign influence in the region.

The Trump administration antagonised lawmakers by announcing last month it would use emergency powers to defy Congress and provide munitions, aircraft, maintenance and other military components to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan.

But while such votes are all but guaranteed in the Democrat-controlled House, in the GOP-led Senate, critics of Mr Trump's arms deals are bracing for a struggle - and preparing alternate options in case their first attempt fails. The other Republicans who are cosponsoring the resolutions are Sens.

The State Department's assistant secretary for political-military affairs, R. Clarke Cooper, will testify on the matter Wednesday before the House Foreign Affairs Committee and is expected to defend the move by arguing that the "emergency certification (s) are meant to address the military need of our partners in the face of an urgent regional threat posed by Iran", according to his prepared remarks, obtained by CNN.

Panel chairman Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., began the hearing with R. Clarke Cooper, the assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs, by accusing the administration of creating a "phony" emergency to justify the sales. "It's made up. And it's an abuse of the law".

A USA diplomat countered that the emergency declaration was justified because of the "uptick of the threat streams" from Iran.

But Democrats were not having it - and Republicans were clearly uncomfortable with having been circumvented as well.

Barbara Corcoran's brother found dead at Dominican Republic resort
State Department told Fox News: "We can confirm the death of a U.S. citizen in April 2019 in the Dominican Republic ". Jonathan Corcoran, 60, was found in a Dominican Republic hotel room, having died of an apparent heart attack.

Committee Republicans, including ranking member Michael McCaul of Texas and Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, seized upon Congressionally-imposed delays in some recent sales as justification for the State Department's decision to bypass oversight.

Out of concern both for defending Congress's traditional role in weapons sales and for selling arms to the Saudis while the kingdom is waging its destructive war in Yemen, several members of Congress have resisted Trump's emergency declaration.

Politicians on both sides of the aisle - both in the House of Representatives and the Senate, as well - have spoken out against the Trump administration's willingness to get rid of so many arms to countries like Saudi Arabia, even going as far to draft and push forward a handful of bills. Cooper denied that Kushner had.

In Wednesday's hearing, several lawmakers complained that Pompeo gave Congress closed-door briefings on the Middle East three days before he made the emergency declaration.

Shanahan did not expand on or offer any additional explanation regarding his comments but an aide to the acting defense secretary later told CNN that he likes the regular process for matters as a rule, but once the decision was made by the administration, he supported it.

Cooper refused to detail in a public setting any of the individual deals, leaving Democrats to question whether the administration was expediting the sale of offensive weapons to Saudi Arabia to arm it for a regional war or an escalation of its military campaign in Yemen. A majority of lawmakers voted earlier this year to end USA participation in the war in Yemen, and they have condemned the killing of Khashoggi, a Washington Post contributing columnist who was slain in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul in October.


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