The missiles are made by Raytheon, former employer of Defense Secretary Austin
Biden OKs $650 Million Missile Sale to Saudi Arabia
Dave DeCamp / AntiWar.com
( November 4, 2021)—The Pentagon announced Thursday that the State Department approved a potential sale of missiles to Saudi Arabia worth about $650 million.
The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) said Saudi Arabia requested a purchase of 280 AIM-120C air-to-air missiles, 596 LAU-128 Missile Rail Launchers, and other related equipment. The primary contractor is Raytheon Technologies, the former employer of Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.
The DSCA said the sale is in support of Saudi Arabia’s air force that is waging a major air campaign in Yemen. In February, President Biden vowed to end support for Riyadh’s “offensive” operations in Yemen. But it was revealed in April that the Pentagon is still servicing Saudi warplanes that are bombing the country.
The missile sale is another example of the US continuing to support the brutal war in Yemen and is the second arms deal for the Saudis approved by the Biden administration. In September, the State Department approved a deal worth $500 million to maintain Saudia Arabia’s military helicopters, including Apache and Black Hawk attack helicopters.
Without US support, Saudi Arabia’s air force would quickly be grounded, and they would be forced to negotiate with the Houthis. Saudi warplanes have been pounding Yemen in recent months around the city of Maarib, where the Houthis continue to make gains despite the airpower they face.
The US-backed war and blockade on Yemen has caused widespread disease and mass starvation in the country. Early this year, the UN warned that if conditions don’t change in Yemen, 400,000 children under the age of five will starve to death in 2021 alone. This means hundreds of thousands of children may have already died since the warning was made.
US Contractors Still Servicing Saudi Warplanes
That Are Being Used to Bomb Yemen Civilinans
Biden said he would end support for ‘offensive’ operations,
but US contractors continue to maintain Saudi Air Force
(April 27, 2021) — The Biden administration has finally clarified the extent to which it is still supporting Saudi Arabia’s military in Yemen.
In comments to Vox, Pentagon officials admitted that the US is still maintaining Saudi Arabia’s warplanes by using contractors. The US could cancel the contracts at any time, which would effectively ground the Saudi Air Force, ending the vicious bombing campaign that has been raging since March 2015.
“The United States continues to provide maintenance support to Saudi Arabia’s Air Force given the critical role it plays in Saudi air defense and our longstanding security partnership,” a Pentagon spokesperson told Vox over the weekend.
The maintenance is done through the Pentagon’s Foreign Military Salesprogram, which means Saudi Arabia pays the US to provide contractors that can maintain the warplanes.
The admission comes over two months since President Biden said he was ending support for Riyadh’s “offensive” operations in Yemen. Vox reporter Alex Ward asked Pentagon spokesman John Kirby on Monday if the planes that the US is servicing could be used for offensive operations in Yemen. Kirby admitted that the “maintenance support for systems could be used for both” offensive and defensive operations.
Biden’s special envoy to Yemen, Tim Lenderking, claimed to Congress last week that he was not “in the information loop” on how much support the US is giving the Saudi-led coalition. Later in the week, Gen. Frank McKenzie said the US was not providing intelligence or logistics for Saudi operations inside Yemen and that his role consisted of warning Riyadh of imminent Houthi attacks when he can.
Besides continuing to maintain the Saudi Air Force, the Biden administration has given Riyadh the political cover to continue enforcing the blockade on Yemen. Biden officials have claimed that Yemen is not under a blockade, even though Saudi warships are preventing fuel shipments from docking in the port of Hodeidah, which makes it impossible to deliver food to Yemen’s starving civilian population.
The State Department tried to shift the blame to the government of exiled Yemeni President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, who the US claims is choosing to deny the entry of ships to Hodeidah. But much like the Saudi Air Force, the Hadi government would have absolutely no power if not for foreign support. Hadi has been living in Saudi Arabia since 2015.
The UN is warning that if conditions don’t change, 400,000 Yemeni childrenunder the age of five will starve to death in 2021 alone. Despite the grim statistics, President Biden is choosing to maintain a good relationship with Saudi Arabia and is putting no pressure on Riyadh to make a sincere effort to end the war.
UN: At Least 400,000 Yemeni Children
Under Five Could Starve to Death in 2021
(February 12, 2021) — The UN warned on Friday that at least 400,000 children in Yemen could die of starvation this year if the war doesn’t end and aid does not reach areas suffering severe food shortages.
A report released by four UN agencies projected that acute malnutrition in the country will rise by 22 percent from 2020, and 2.3 million children will endure acute malnutrition, with one out of six — 400,000 — expected to die if conditions don’t change. The report said about 1.2 million pregnant or breastfeeding women in Yemen could also face acute malnutrition.
The report was issued by the World Food Program (WFP), UNICEF, the World Health Organization, and the Food and Agriculture Organization. “These numbers are yet another cry for help from Yemen, where each malnourished child also means a family struggling to survive,” said David Beasley, the head of the WFP.
The report explained that in 2020, agencies in Yemen only received $1.9 billion of the $3.4 billion needed to operate, causing the shuttering of some food programs. “But there is a solution to hunger, and that’s food and an end to the violence,” Beasley said.
The alarming report comes after President Biden pledged he would end all US support for Saudi Arabia’s “offensive” operations in Yemen and halted planned bomb sales. Since 2015, the US-backed Saudi-led coalition has regularly targeted civilians and infrastructure in Yemen, including food supplies.
The Biden administration is also seeking a diplomatic solution to end the fighting in Yemen. Timothy Lenderking, Biden’s new special envoy for Yemen, is in Saudi Arabia this week to push for an end to the war.
The vicious bombing campaign has been coupled with a land, sea, and air blockade of Yemen. Questions remain over whether or not the US will still support the blockade.
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