Samuel Oakford reports on the latest sale of U.S. weapons to Saudi Arabia:
The US State Department has signed off on the sale of $1.29 billion worth of weaponry to Saudi Arabia, including tens of thousands of bombs that will restock a Saudi arms stockpile depleted by the country’s air campaign in Yemen, which has been linked to civilian deaths.
There had been a slight chance that delaying new weapons sales to the Saudis might be used to pressure the coalition to scale back its campaign and possibly to get them to pursue a diplomatic resolution to the conflict, but that obviously didn’t happen. Unfortunately, it was always unlikely that the administration would even make the effort. Instead of using what influence the U.S. has with Riyadh to rein in or end its unnecessary war, the Obama administration has chosen to offer unstinting support for the campaign by providing refueling, intelligence, and weapons. While the U.S. pretends not to be a party to the war, it has helped provide diplomatic cover for the coalition’s war crimes, and it refrains from saying anything about the many civilian casualties caused by indiscriminate attacks on civilian areas and in some cases the deliberate bombings of civilian targets. The rule seems to be that U.S. clients in the region are always to be coddled and “reassured,” and they must never be inconvenienced or criticized for their errors.
Amnesty International criticized the latest weapons sale:
This summer, researchers at Amnesty International reported that MK-82 bombs had been found at the site of attacks that killed civilians, including an unexploded ordnance left intact at a mosque in the village of Waht, were 11 worshippers died in May.
“The Saudi Arabia-led air coalition is engaging in indiscriminate bombing of civilian communities in Yemen, in violation of international law,” said Sunjeev Bery, Middle East and North Africa director at Amnesty. “The Obama administration is now selling to Saudi Arabia even more of the MK-82 bombs that the Saudi-led coalition has already used to kill civilians in Yemen.”
The bombing campaign will continue to claim more civilian lives, and the U.S. will be partly responsible for that by having provided the arms, fuel, and political support to help keep the war going.