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article imagePentagon refers questions about Saudi arms sales to State Dept.

By Ken Hanly     May 22, 2020 in Politics
Thursday, the Pentagon referred questions about US arms deals with Saudi Arabia to the State Dept The referral comes amid controversy over an internal watchdog who was fired while reportedly investigating Pompeo's actions in fast-tracking the sales.
Pentagon spokesperson Jonathan Hoffman told reporters: “I’m not going to talk about the interagency process on that and there’s obviously a lot of scrutiny and interest in this. I would refer you over to State Department, who handled the announcement on this.Foreign military sales are an important part of what the department does and how we work with our allies and partners with regard to that particular transaction I’m just gonna have to refer you over to the State Department I’m not going to discuss the interagency conversations.”
On Thursday night a US State Dept. spokesperson wrote that the Department met the requirements of the law and also followed relevant practices in invoking emergency authority that moved the arms transfers forward.
The firing of US State Dept Inspector General
The firing of the State Dept. Inspector General Steve Linick is just one of five recently fired by Trump. As a recent article notes: "In a span of six weeks, Mr. Trump has removed five officials from posts leading their respective agencies' inspector general offices, three of whom were working in an acting capacity. The president's moves have prompted scrutiny and criticism from congressional Democrats, who accuse Mr. Trump of hollowing independent inspector general offices and retaliating against those that have exposed wrongdoing or missteps by his administration."
Linick was investigating the role of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo played in the potential fast-tracking of an $8 billion sale of military equipment to Saudi Arabia, Linck was also checking on other issues such as whether Pompeo and his wife had a State Dept. staff member walk their dog, pick up dry cleaning and perform other personal work.
Pompeo denies that the firing had anything to do with the investigation
Pompeo had urged Trump to fire Linick last week and Trump quickly did so. Pompeo said he should have asked for his dismissal sooner but did not elaborate as to why. The appended video shows Pompeo defending his actions but does not give details about the reasons for his firing.
Pompeo claimed:
“There are claims that this was for retaliation for some investigation that the inspector general’s office here was engaged in. Patently false,”
US makes large arms sales to the Saudis
The Saudis are the number one buyer of weapons from the US and the largest importer of arms in the world. Between 2015 to 2019 the Saudis imported 73 percent of their arms from the US according to a report from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Last March Trump praised the Saudis arms purchases from the US as he met with Crown Prince Mohammed and urged him to buy even more. Trump said at the time: “Saudi Arabia is a very wealthy nation, and they’re going to give the United States some of that wealth, hopefully, in the form of jobs, in the form of the purchase of the finest military equipment anywhere in the world."
Critics of the sales point to the poor human rights record of the Saudis including their murder of the journalist Khashoggi as well as the US of the weapons in the war against the Houthi rebels in Yemen. The US Congress talked of placing some restrictions on exports to the Saudis in 2019 but deliveries continued throughout the year.
More about US Pentagon, US arms sales to Saudis, US Saudi relations
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