Despite calls by international human rights groups to stop providing Saudi Arabia with weapons being used in the onslaught in Yemen, Washington has approved a $11.25-billion sale to the Saudi military of Lockheed Martin Corp multi-mission warships, plus associated equipment, training and logistics. The deal was approved despite increased criticism over the more than 2,400 civilian casualties caused by US-backed Saudi airstrikes in Yemen since March 26.
US Approves $11.25 Billion Military Sale to Saudi Arabia TeleSUR
(October 21, 2015) -- The approval of the huge military deal goes against calls on Washington to halt all arms transfers to a country killing civilians in Yemen. Despite calls by international human rights groups on the US to stop providing Saudi Arabia with weapons being used in the onslaught in Yemen, Washington Wednesday approved the US$11.25-billion sale to the Saudi military of up to four Lockheed Martin Corp multi-mission warships, plus associated equipment, training and logistics.
The Pentagon's Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress late Monday about the possible sale, and released a statement on its website on Tuesday, according to Reuters.
"We stand ready to support that sale," Lockheed Chief Executive Officer Marillyn Hewson told analysts on an earnings call. She said the deal could be completed in 2016.
The Pentagon’s office in charge of the sale of weapons and other military equipment (DSCA) said the major defense equipment involved in the deal was worth US$4.3 billion, with the rest going to fund extensive engineering, logistics and training required for the program.
US members of Congress now have 30 days to block the sale, an action that is rare since potential deals are carefully vetted before formal notification, Reuters added.
In September, Reuters reported that Saudi Arabia was in advanced discussions with the US government about buying two of the ships, and could reach agreement by the end of the year. It was not immediately clear if the Gulf country would buy all four ships at once.
Saudi Arabia intends to modernize their Royal Navy's Eastern Fleet by replacing older US-built ships with new ships based on the Littoral Combat Ships.
The sale will be the first major export in years of a newly built US-manufactured surface naval vessel, and will enable the US military to operate more easily with the Gulf Cooperation Council countries.
"This sale demonstrates the enduring US commitment to building robust diplomatic and security partnerships essential to promoting peace and stability in the Gulf region," said one US official who was not authorized to speak publicly.
The deal has been approved at a moment Saudi Arabia is under increasing criticism over the more than 2,400 civilian casualties it has caused in their airstrikes in Yemen since March 26.
The United Nations and other major human rights organizations have condemned the Saudis over their airstrikes against the Houthis in Yemen.
Many NGOs suggested the United States was responsible for the onslaught in Yemen because the weapons being used are US-made and sold to Saudi Arabia by Washington. The called on the Obama Administration to halt all sales of arms to the Saudis.
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Analysis: Why Saudi Arabia is Bombing Yemen
Yet another Middle Eastern nation is facing foreign intervention. While the conflict is now largely portrayed as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, there are myriad internal actors all vying for control of Yemen. While al-Qaida hopes to use the conflict to seize new territory, a southern secessionist movement aspires to resurrect the defunct state of South Yemen.
Oil is also a major concern. Rising oil prices are likely to financially benefit all petro-states for now, but could undermine Saudi Arabia's long game to starve competitors out of the market with dirt-cheap prices.
Yemen’s turmoil is driven primarily by internal politics. However, Saudi Arabia is depicting the Houthi takeover as a ruthless Shiite attack on a Sunni region, turning it into a sectarian clash between Sunnis and Shiites.
In recent years, Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies have demonstrated that their interest lies in consolidating power and keeping the keys to the Middle East in their pockets, thus reassuring their Western allies of the stability of the oil-richest region in the world.
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(October 21, 2015) -- About 7,000 people have reportedly lost their lives in the Saudi raids, including at least 500 children, while 14,000 have been injured.
US-Saudi Cluster Bombing of Yemen Town
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(October 18, 2015) -- Breaking: Watch #US-made clusterbombs burst over village Maran/Saada.
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