As expected, the Trump administration is undoing the minimal, belated limits that the previous administration put on arms sales to the Saudis:
The State Department has approved a resumption of weapons sales that critics have linked to Saudi Arabia’s bombing of civilians in Yemen, a potential sign of reinvigorated U.S. support for the kingdom’s involvement in its neighbor’s ongoing civil war.
The proposal from the State Department would reverse a decision made late in the Obama administration to suspend the sale of precision guided munitions to Riyadh, which leads a mostly Arab coalition conducting airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen.
U.S. support for the Saudi-led war on Yemen has been a disgrace for almost two years, but this latest decision shows that the new administration is going to compound the earlier errors that Obama made in enabling that war. The U.S. has been deeply complicit in the coalition’s war crimes and its role in creating one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world, and thanks to Trump and Tillerson that complicity is only going to get worse. Millions of Yemeni civilians will continue to suffer and many thousands will die, and all so that our government can placate our despotic client states.
The truly disgusting part of all this is that Trump could have easily withdrawn U.S. support for the war and halted arms sales to coalition governments when he took office, and it would have cost him almost nothing politically. Just as no one cares that the U.S. is aiding and abetting in the destruction and starvation of Yemen, few would care if it stopped providing that aid. The current administration isn’t backing the Saudis and their allies because they have to, but because they choose to and because they buy into nonsensical claims that this has something to do with combating Iran. Throwing more weapons at the Saudis and their allies won’t do anything to Iran, but it will continue to implicate the U.S. in the horrible crimes that the coalition commits with those weapons with the help of U.S. refueling and intelligence support.