U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today spoke on the Senate floor against the joint resolutions of disapproval regarding arms sales to Bahrain and Qatar, which both failed.
Mr. President, I strongly urge my colleagues to oppose the joint resolution of disapproval regarding arms sales to Bahrain and Qatar.
These two Arabian Peninsula states are important American partners in countering Iran and combating ISIS, among other terrorist groups.
Bahrain hosts about 7,000 U.S. personnel, as well as the U.S. Fifth Fleet.
Qatar hosts about 10,000 U.S. personnel, as well as the Combined Air Operations Center at Al Udeid Air Base.
Through these arms sales, we can improve cooperation, enhance interoperability and help our partners defend themselves and American troops in the region.
But more important, if we renege on these arms sales, we will undermine the National Defense Strategy, which has strong, bipartisan support.
Recall that the top NDS priority is competing with Russia and China, which seek to undermine U.S. interests by coming between us and our long-standing partners.
So make no mistake: if our partners can’t rely on us for their defensive needs, they will look towards Russia and China.
So I ask my colleagues who support this resolution: Do you expect Russia and China to ensure the freedom of navigation in the Middle East against Iranian threats? Will Russia and China lead the coalition that defeated ISIS? Will Russia and China deter Iran from attacking our partners and troops in this region?
Now I understand that many of my colleagues have concerns about Saudi Arabia’s terrible human rights record. As I have said before, I share those concerns.
And I know that some of my colleagues disagree with the administration’s recent emergency declaration regarding arms sales to Saudi Arabia.
But Leadership has assured me that we will have a vote on Saudi Arabia. So I urge my colleagues to raise their concerns at that time.
More to the point, I urge them not to punish Bahrain and Qatar inappropriately—and not to undermine U.S. national security interests in the region.