Watchdog finds U.S. did not weigh civilian risks when pushing Saudi arms sales

By Patricia Zengerle and Humeyra Pamuk WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Department of State did not fully evaluate the risk of civilian casualties in Yemen when it pushed through a huge 2019 precision-guided munitions sale to Saudi Arabia, a government watchdog's report said on Tuesday. 'OIG (the State Department Inspector General) found that the Department did not fully assess risks and implement mitigation measures to reduce civilian casualties and legal concerns associated with the transfer of PGMs included in the Secretary’s May 2019 emergency certification,' the report said.

Reuters August 12, 2020 00:11:50 IST
Watchdog finds U.S. did not weigh civilian risks when pushing Saudi arms sales

Watchdog finds US did not weigh civilian risks when pushing Saudi arms sales

By Patricia Zengerle and Humeyra Pamuk

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Department of State did not fully evaluate the risk of civilian casualties in Yemen when it pushed through a huge 2019 precision-guided munitions sale to Saudi Arabia, a government watchdog's report said on Tuesday.

"OIG (the State Department Inspector General) found that the Department did not fully assess risks and implement mitigation measures to reduce civilian casualties and legal concerns associated with the transfer of PGMs included in the Secretary’s May 2019 emergency certification," the report said.

Congress had requested an investigation into the Trump administration's May 2019 decision to push ahead with $8 billion in military sales to Saudi Arabia and other countries, sidestepping the congressional review process by declaring an emergency over tensions with Iran.

Lawmakers had blocked some of the sales from concern that the Raytheon smart bombs and other equipment might contribute to the humanitarian catastrophe amid Yemen's civil war.

The report did not take a position on whether the emergency declaration was merited, and said the State Department did not violate the Arms Export Control Act.

A department official had briefed reporters before the report was released, touting that finding. [L1N2FC1YA]

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo did not sit down for an interview for the report, instead submitting a written statement.

The report noted that State had allowed some smaller sales of precision-guided munitions parts to Saudi Arabia without congressional review, saying they were below the threshold for congressional review.

It also said most of the weapons sales approved under the emergency order had not been delivered, months after the emergency was declared.

The report follows President Donald Trump's abrupt dismissal in May of then-Inspector General Steve Linick, who was conducting the investigation.

Congressional committees are probing his firing - one of a string of dismissals of government watchdogs by Trump that have raised concerns about oversight.

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Tom Brown)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources
| Reuters
World

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters

By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States

China's Xi says navy should become world class
| Reuters
World

China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.