Bruce Riedel makes the case for blocking arms sales and cutting off military assistance to Saudi Arabia:
The war is draining the kingdom’s coffers. And responsibility for the war is on Mohammed bin Salman, who as defense minister has driven Riyadh into this quagmire. Shaking the arms relationship is by far the most important way to clip his wings.
Congress now has the power to make a serious decision, halting arms sales and the logistics train for the kingdom in the wake of the reported murder of Saudi critic Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey last week. The outrageous attack on Jamal deserves serious reaction, and given Trump’s dereliction of duty on the matter, it is up to Congress to act. The president may try to override a Senate arms stand-down but it would be a painful setback for the prince.
Congress ought to have cut off military support and arms sales to the Saudis long ago, and they should certainly do so now. This would not only send a clear message to Riyadh that the blank check this administration has given them is no more, but it would also make it practically impossible for the Saudis to continue bombing Yemeni civilians. As Riedel says, “The Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) is entirely dependent on American and British support for its air fleet of F-15 fighter jets, Apache helicopters, and Tornado aircraft. If either Washington or London halts the flow of logistics, the RSAF will be grounded.” Supporters of the war on Yemen often say that U.S. military assistance is “modest” or “limited” as a way of minimizing our government’s role, but they usually neglect to mention how critical it is to the coalition’s operations. If the U.S. withdrew support from the Saudi coalition, they would not be able to continue their war and would have to come to terms with the reality of failure. The longer that the U.S. keeps propping up their war effort, the longer the war drags on needlessly and the more Yemeni civilians suffer and die for no good reason.
Halting arms sales and ending support for the war are the right things to do for the U.S. and for Yemen, and they will show the crown prince that there are some significant consequences to his reckless and destructive behavior.