McConnell Defends Arms Sales to Middle East Partners

WASHINGTON, D.C.U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding the proposed arms sale to Saudi Arabia:

“Earlier this year, a disastrous retreat from Afghanistan gave our allies and partners reason to doubt that the United States could be counted on. Today, some of our colleagues want to double down on that mistake by blocking defensive support to yet another important partner.

“Saudi Arabia is literally surrounded by violent threats conceived, funded, and orchestrated by Iran.

“To the north, they’ve got Iran-backed terrorists sowing violence in Iraq and Syria. To the east, they have a Gulf filled with the flags of Iran’s own increasingly belligerent Navy.

“And to the south, the Saudis have Iran-backed Houthi terrorists strangling Yemen and lobbing rockets, missiles, and armed drones over the border. To be sure, this violence and the plight of the Yemeni people have only worsened since the Biden Administration removed the Houthis from the terrorist list and imposed new restrictions on our support for the Saudi-led coalition.

“Around the world, from time to time, we all have legitimate concerns about the behavior of our partners. But we are in a better position to influence their conduct if they trust in our partnership.

“So our colleagues don’t get to vent their moral outrage in a vacuum without accounting for what comes next. A vote to block the sale of defensive military systems to Saudi Arabia would undermine one of our most important regional partners.

“But there’s even more at stake.

“Whether we help or not, our Arab partners will still be under siege tomorrow. They’ll still need military capabilities to defend themselves. And we know that Russia and China will happily sell them advanced weapons systems.

“The importance of so-called great power competition is a matter of general consensus. So we should be wary of turning our backs on long-time partners and of pushing them into the arms of our adversaries.

“So here’s what our colleagues’ resolution would actually do. It would give the world yet another reason to doubt the resolve of the United States of America.

“And it would give our biggest adversaries a new foothold to exert their influence over a rapidly changing and important region.”