The US has approved its first major arms deal with Saudi Arabia under President Joe Biden with the sale of 280 air-to-air missiles valued at up to $650 million. The Pentagon announced details of the deal yesterday and has informed Congress.
In its statement, the Pentagon said the US State Department approved the sale to help Riyadh counter current and future threats. "This proposed sale will support US foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a friendly country that continues to be an important force for political and economic progress in the Middle East," the Pentagon said.
Raytheon, the US company that manufactures the Iron Dome for Israel, is said to be the "principal contractor" for supplying the Saudi's new missiles.
With the sale coming only months after Biden said he would end US support for Saudi Arabia's "offensive operations" in Yemen, including "relevant arms sales," the decision has come under fire from critics.
"This has nothing to do with making the world a better place and everything to do with fueling our defense economy," Marianne Williamson, an author and former presidential candidate, wrote on Twitter. "America's economy should not be built around merchandising death."
This has nothing to do with making the world a better place and everything to do with fueling our defense economy. America's economy should not be built around merchandising death. https://t.co/jzm1ak5BGM
— Marianne Williamson (@marwilliamson) November 4, 2021
Williamson's remarks underline a common accusation directed at the US about the dangerous influence of the "military industrial complex" over Washington's foreign policy. One of the most celebrated US presidents, Dwight D Eisenhower, warned about in his 1961 address to the country.
The executive director of DAWN, a human rights group seeking to promote democracy in the Middle East, also slammed the decision. "The Biden administration adds insult to injury with its latest arms sale to Saudi Arabia" said Sarah Leah Whitson.