US President Donald Trump’s administration plans to sell nearly $ 500 million. In arms to Saudi Arabia before leaving the White House, US media have reported a move that an expert smashed as “a moral scandal”.
Referring to two named sources familiar with the matter, Bloomberg reported that the State Department informed Congress on Tuesday that it was proceeding to issue a license to sell precision-controlled air-to-ground ammunition to Riyadh, which is estimated to be worth $ 478 $. m.
U.S. arms maker Raytheon Technologies Corp. will be able to sell the weapons directly to the Saudis once it gets the license, Bloomberg said.
The Washington Post also reported that the weapons would be produced in the Gulf Kingdom under the terms of the agreement, which has been in use since early 2019. The deal also includes a $ 97 million internal security communications system, the newspaper said.
News of the proposed sale, which Al Jazeera could not independently confirm, came as Trump stepped into the final weeks of his presidency.
The Republican leader has been a strong supporter of Saudi Arabia, a longtime American ally and the country’s de facto leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, making strong US-Saudi relations a pillar of his government’s policies in the Middle East.
Trump too personally screened Crown Prince Mohammed, also known as MBS, from criticism of Saudi Arabia’s human rights record, the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the war in Yemen, among other controversial issues.
War in Yemen
The war in Yemen began in 2014, when the Houthi rebels took control of large shards in the country, including the capital Sanaa.
The conflict escalated in 2015 after Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates united a US-backed military coalition in an attempt to restore the government of Riyadh-backed Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.
U.S. politicians have criticized Trump’s unwavering support for Riyadh and, in particular, the administration’s continued aid to Saudi forces in the war-torn country facing a serious humanitarian catastrophe.
Trump vetoed a bill in Congress last year that sought to end U.S. support for the Saudi war effort.
UN warned last month that Yemen could see the worst famine in decades.
Nader Hashemi, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Denver, said the planned U.S. arms sale to Saudi Arabia is “a moral scandal.”
“This new shipment of weapons only deepens US involvement in the crisis in Yemen, which is widely regarded as the worst humanitarian crisis on our planet,” Hashemi Al Jazeera said in an email on Thursday.
“This new weapons shipment must be understood in relation to Trump’s last day office. He is pardon his corrupt friends and allies and exempts Blackwater guards of war crimes in Iraq, for which they were convicted by a US court. ”
The Washington Post also reported this week that the United States is weighing a request to grant MBS immunity from U.S. federal prosecution in a case involving alleged threats against a former Saudi intelligence officer.
“This is not the time to sell bombs to Saudi Arabia given its role in killing thousands of civilians in airstrikes on targets in Yemen,” said William Hartung, director of the Arms and Security Program at the Center for International Policy. profit group in Washington, DC, on the reported arms trade.
Hartung said in an email that the sale to Riyadh, like a recent one US $ 23 billion Arms trade with the UAE, could enable violations of international humanitarian law.
“The fact that the Trump administration is pushing these deals out the door is outrageous. Congress and the upcoming Biden administration should block these sales as soon as possible, ”Hartung told Al Jazeera.
Elected US President Joe Biden, who will be inaugurated on January 20, has vowed to “re-evaluate” US-Saudi relations when he takes office.
“During a Biden-Harris administration, we will reassess our relationship with the kingdom [of Saudi Arabia]”End US support for Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen and make sure America does not check its values at the door to sell arms or buy oil,” Said Biden in October.