U.S. President Donald Trump vetoed three congressional resolutions on Wednesday that would have blocked billions of dollars in arms sales to countries including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
In messages to the Senate justifying the move, Trump wrote that the resolutions “would weaken America’s global competitiveness and damage the important relationships we share with our allies and partners.”
Congress is not expected to have the two-thirds majority required to override the decision.
In May, the Trump administration said threats from Iran necessitated the invocation of an emergency provision in an arms sales law which enabled 22 deals with Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Jordan to go through without being subject to the standard 30-day congressional review period.
In response, Congress passed the three resolutions this month blocking the sales.
Congress had been attempting to block arms sales to Saudi Arabia from moving forward for over a year, mainly due to Saudi participation in Yemen’s brutal civil war, which has been commonly seen as a regional extension of the conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia has been condemned for conducting bombings in civilian areas and contributing to the widespread famine which has spread throughout the country.
Others based their opposition on last year’s murder of U.S.-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey by Saudi agents.
In his messages to the Senate, Trump wrote that “The United States is very concerned about the conflict’s toll on innocent civilians,” but that “ill-conceived and time-consuming resolutions” would not bring the conflict to an end. He urged Congress “to direct its efforts toward supporting our work to achieve peace through a negotiated settlement to the conflict in Yemen.”
He also called Saudi Arabia and the UAE “a bulwark against the malign activities of Iran and its proxies in the region.”