Obama Offers Saudis Over $115 Billion in Arms Deals

September 7th, 2016 - by admin

Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com & Yara Bayoumy / Reuters – 2016-09-07 23:30:00


Obama Offered Saudis Over $115 Billion in Arms Deals
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com

(September 7, 2016) — The new report from the Center for International Policy is revealing that over the course of his term in office, President Obama has offered Saudi Arabia over $115 billion in arms and other military equipment in 42 separate deals, by far the most of any US administration.

The data from the report came from the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, a Pentagon body that provides figures on international military sales. Most of the deals were ultimately approved, and large amounts of the weapons are still to be delivered.

This comes amid growing international disquiet about Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen, which the US is participating in. Huge civilian casualties, chiefly the result of Saudi airstrikes, are raising pressure on the Obama Administration to do something to limit the violence.

Though the US has given some lip service to being opposed to the huge civilian toll, officials have rejected all calls to limit arms sales to Saudi Arabia over the war, insisting that the sales give them leverage over the Saudi kingdom. That huge amounts of arms are still to be delivered suggests that the Saudis are looking to add to their already substantial war — launching capabilities, and that the US is only too willing to comply.

Obama Administration Arms Sales Offers to Saudi Top $115 Billion: Report
Yara Bayoumy / Reuters

WASHINGTON (September 7, 2016) — US President Barack Obama’s administration has offered Saudi Arabia more than $115 billion in weapons, other military equipment and training, the most of any US administration in the 71-year US-Saudi alliance, a report seen by Reuters has found.

The report, authored by William Hartung of the US-based Center for International Policy, said the offers were made in 42 separate deals, and the majority of the equipment has yet to be delivered. Hartung told Reuters the report would be made available publicly on Sept. 8.

The report said US arms offers to Saudi Arabia since Obama took office in January 2009 have included everything from small arms and ammunition to tanks, attack helicopters, air-to-ground missiles, missile defense ships, and warships. Washington also provides maintenance and training to Saudi security forces.

The Center’s report is based on data from the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, a Department of Defense body that provides figures on arms sales offers and Foreign Military Sales agreements. Most of the offers, which are reported to Congress, become formal agreements though some are abandoned or amended.

The report did not disclose how many of the offers to Saudi Arabia were agreed.

Washington’s arms sales to Riyadh recently have come under fire from rights groups and some members of Congress are disturbed by the rising number of civilian casualties in the war in Yemen, where a coalition led by Saudi Arabia is fighting Iran-allied Houthi rebels.

The conflict has killed at least 10,000 people. Last month the United Nations human rights office said that 3,799 civilians have died in the conflict, with coalition air strikes responsible for an estimated 60 percent of the deaths.

The coalition says it does not target civilians and accuses the Houthis of placing military targets in civilian areas. The coalition has created a body to investigate civilian casualties.

The outcry over those casualties has led some members of Congress to push for restrictions on arms transfers, and amid the growing outcry, the Pentagon cautioned that its support for Saudi Arabia in its Yemen campaign was not “a blank check”.

The Control Arms coalition, a group that campaigns for stricter arms sales controls, said last month that Britain, France and the United States were flouting the 2014 Arms Trade treaty, which bans exports of conventional weapons that fuel human rights violations or war crimes.

Nevertheless, the Obama administration last month approved a potential $1.15 billion arms package for Saudi Arabia.

Hartung said the level of US arms sales to Riyadh should give it leverage to pressure Saudi Arabia.

“It’s time for the Obama administration to use the best leverage it has — Saudi Arabia’s dependence on US weapons and support — to wage the war in Yemen in the first place,” Hartung told Reuters. “Pulling back the current offer of battle tanks or freezing some of the tens of billions in weapons and services in the pipeline would send a strong signal to the Saudi leadership that they need stop their indiscriminate bombing campaign and take real steps to prevent civilian casualties.”

Washington has been at pains to prove to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf allies that it remains committed to their defense against Iran in the wake of a multinational deal last year to restrict the Iranian nuclear program. Sunni Muslim Gulf states accuse Shi’ite Iran of fomenting instability in the region, which the Islamic Republic denies.

“The more recent deals that have involved resupplying Saudi Arabia with ammunition, bombs, and tanks to replace weaponry used up or damaged in the war in Yemen are no doubt driven in part by the effort to ‘reassure’ the Saudis that the US will not tilt towards Iran in the wake of the nuclear deal,” Hartung said.

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