The US has agreed to sell Saudi Arabia $1 billion in arms, it was announced yesterday.
As Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman continues his state visit to American, the State Department told Congress that it plans to approve the sale, with lawmakers given 30 days to stop it.
The deal includes some 6,700 US-built anti-tank missiles and support, maintenance and spare parts for American tanks, helicopters and other equipment already in Saudi Arabia’s arsenal.
At the start of Bin Salman’s trip to the US, President Donald Trump called on him to “share” his country’s wealth. “Saudi Arabia is a very wealthy nation, and they’re going to give the United States some of that wealth, hopefully in the form of jobs, in the form of the purchase of the finest military equipment anywhere in the world,” Trump said.
Rights groups have repeatedly condemned the US and UK’s continued arms sales to Saudi Arabia in light of the Kingdom’s human rights violations in Yemen, many of which are thought to be war crimes.
The Middle East’s poorest nation has been battered by a Saudi-led military coalition’s devastating – and often indiscriminate – bombing. UK and US made fighter jets are said to be being used to wreak havoc on the impoverished country, with thousands of airstrikes on targets including hospitals, markets, homes, factories and funeral halls.
The UN has described the situation in Yemen as the “worst humanitarian disaster for 50 years”.
According to a Human Rights Watch report, munitions supplied by Raytheon – the company which will supply Saudi with the anti-missile systems under the new deal – have been traced back to Saudi-led air strikes against innocent civilians. It was reported that, in one such attack, 31 civilians were killed and another 42 were wounded. The rights monitor recovered a portion of one of the bombs used in the strike that had Raytheon production markings and a manufacture date of October 2015.
According to UN officials, more than 10,000 people have been killed in the war, while more than 11 per cent of the country’s population has been displaced.
Saudi has imposed a strict air, sea and land siege on the country, stopping humanitarian aid from reaching families which are in desperate need of help. Earlier this year, the UN warned that four out of five Yemenis are now dependent on humanitarian aid amid “catastrophic” conditions across the country as the civil war enters its fourth year.