Dem senator calls on Biden to cut off sales of antimissile systems to Saudi Arabia

Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., called on the Biden administration Thursday to cut off sales of U.S. antimissile systems to Saudi Arabia and provide them instead to Ukraine, Poland or other countries “that right now matter more to the United States than Saudi Arabia.”

“My contention is that Saudi Arabia has been an unreliable ally for a very long time, and that we give them much more than they give us,” Murphy, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in an interview for the Yahoo News “Skullduggery” podcast.

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“So I think it’s time for us to seriously rethink our security relationship,” he added. “There are two really important antimissile systems that we provide to Saudi Arabia,” referencing the RAM and Patriot systems, both of which are made by Raytheon.

These systems “would be much better utilized inside Ukraine or inside NATO allies that are on Russia’s periphery,” Murphy said.

Murphy is among a number of leading U.S. senators who have called for cutting back military and other aid to the Saudis in the wake of last week’s agreement of the kingdom to join with Russia to cut back oil production, a move that is expected to lead to another spike in U.S. gas prices. President Biden said this week that “there will be consequences” for the Saudis but has so far declined to offer specifics.

RAM missile system
The RAM missile system is designed to destroy anti-ship missiles and other threats. (U.S. Navy)

But Murphy declined to criticize Biden for his trip last summer to Saudi Arabia, during which he fist-bumped Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman despite last year’s release of a U.S. intelligence report concluding that the de facto Saudi leader approved the operation that led to the brutal murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

“Oh, my God, I’m just so sick of talking about it,” Murphy replied, when asked if the fist bump with the crown prince was a mistake. “I mean, they were fist-bumping because of COVID protocols. They weren’t fist-bumping because they’re good buddies.

“I just think this is so overwrought,” he added. “The United States has a relationship with Saudi Arabia. The president of the United States should be able to talk to the crown prince. Frankly, I think the United States should be talking to our adversaries too. I think the United States should be talking to the Iranians. I think we should be in dialogue with the North Koreans. I think occasionally we should be talking with the Russians.”