A tense U.S.-Saudi diplomatic row, which began on April 8, was reignited by the Trump administration on Wednesday after the U.S. Senate rejected a bipartisan resolution to impose restrictions on arms sales to Saudi Arabia.
The move comes as Saudi Arabia, backed by the Trump administration, defends a massive prisoner swap in which the kingdom and other regional backers in Qatar sent 15 of its citizens back to their home country.
The U.S. Senate voted 53-47 against a measure that sought to halt the United States from supplying the kingdom with new armored vehicles and other military equipment. The Senate also voted down a separate measure that would have banned the use of American weapons in Yemen as U.S. warplanes are providing critical aerial refueling to Saudi warplanes.
The Saudi battle against Shiite rebels in Yemen is the conflict at the heart of the tensions between the Saudi royal family and its regional rivals, Iran and Qatar.
Congress has 30 days to reintroduce the legislation.
The vote is the latest chapter in the political drama that the United States faces in Middle East over the past four months.
On April 16, the U.S. government delivered a letter from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to the U.S. Senate briefing that all arms sales to Saudi Arabia would cease.
The Senate followed by declaring it would introduce its own measures to curb the sale of U.S. weapons to Saudi Arabia. Both measures aimed to shut down America’s support for the Saudi-led Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen.
The Committee on Foreign Relations passed a bill on April 30 directing the president to delay all weapons sales to Saudi Arabia until the war in Yemen is over.
Saudi Arabia says the cease-fire is holding, but that has not stopped the parties from trading blame.
The Saudi-led coalition, which is armed by the United States, is trying to flush rebels out of their southern stronghold.
After the cease-fire took effect, Saudi Arabia started closing off the land crossings into Yemen for goods.
The cease-fire was announced in February in hopes of reining in the conflict, but it has failed to bring any substantial reduction in fighting, analysts say.
A coalition airstrike Saturday killed more than 140 people, many of them children, according to the Saudi-led coalition.
Gulf states called for an immediate end to the fighting, but the cease-fire has failed to bring any substantial reduction in fighting, analysts say.
A United Nations investigation last week identified war crimes in the war as aid and supply routes were cut off.
CNN reported that the Saudi-led coalition was responsible for at least four attacks since the cease-fire began, including the deadliest one on April 19.
Saudi Arabia and other Arab partners have intervened in Yemen since 2015 against Shiite rebels known as Houthis, who have fired missiles and fire mortar shells into the kingdom.
In response to the Obama administration’s refusal to intervene in the conflict, Trump quickly began forging stronger ties with Saudi Arabia.
Shortly after taking office, the president signed $350 million worth of military sales agreements to the kingdom, including more than 70,000 bullets and rocket-propelled grenades.
Trump also met with the Saudi crown prince and U.S. officials say they helped coordinate efforts to force Qatar to cut off ties with Iran and break away from a bloc of Shiite-dominated nations that includes Saudi Arabia.
Trump later described the effort as a “perfect example of how the United States leads.”