US Approves Missile Defense Boost for Saudis Despite Khashoggi Outrage

State Department notifies Congress of planned upgrades

Anger at the Saudi government’s murder of Jamal Khashoggi had many in the US Congress saying that they intend to limit arms sales to the kingdom. The Trump Administration appears to be ignoring that, however, and continuing with Saudi arms deals.

The State Department has notified Congress that Saudi Arabia will be receiving major upgrades to their Patriot PAC-3 missile defense systems, including an improved guidance system. The upgrades are expected to be worth $195 million.

The State Department says that the approval is in keeping with President Trump’s announcement that the US will remain a “steadfast partner” to the Saudis irrespective of what happened to Khashoggi.

This has been the president’s position, and his supporters are citing missile fire from neighboring Yemen. Whether Congress will react to this remains to be seen, but the administration seems to be betting they won’t.

It’s possible, with a defensive missile system, that Congress will defer the conflict over arms sales to the Saudis for something bigger and more offensive-minded. Many senators have promised to hold up future deals.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.