Trump administration pushing $500m arms sale to Riyadh: Reports

Donald Trump’s administration plans to authorise the sale of almost $500m in weapons to Saudi Arabia earlier than the United States president leaves the White House, US media shops have reported, a transfer that one professional slammed as “a moral outrage”.

Citing two unnamed sources acquainted with the problem, Bloomberg reported that the State Department notified Congress on Tuesday that it was transferring forward to subject a licence for the sale of precision-guided, air-to-ground munitions to Riyadh, estimated to be price $478m.

US weapons producer Raytheon Technologies Corp will be capable of promote the weapons on to the Saudis when it receives the licence, Bloomberg mentioned.

The Washington Post additionally reported that the weapons could be produced within the Gulf kingdom as per the phrases of the deal, which has been within the works since early 2019. The settlement additionally features a $97m inner safety communications system, the newspaper mentioned.

News of the proposed sale, which Al Jazeera couldn’t independently verify, got here as Trump entered the ultimate weeks of his presidency.

The Republican chief has been a staunch supporter of Saudi Arabia, a longtime US ally, and the nation’s de facto chief, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, making robust US-Saudi relations a pillar of his administration’s Middle East coverage.

Trump additionally personally shielded Crown Prince Mohammed, also referred to as MBS, from criticism about Saudi Arabia’s human rights file, the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and the warfare in Yemen, amongst different contentious points.

War in Yemen

The warfare in Yemen started in 2014 when Houthi rebels seized management of huge swaths of the nation, together with the capital, Sanaa.

The battle escalated in 2015 after Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates assembled a US-backed army coalition in an try to revive the federal government of Riyadh-backed Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

US politicians have criticised Trump’s unwavering help for Riyadh and, specifically, the administration’s continued assist to Saudi-led forces within the war-torn nation, which faces a dire humanitarian disaster.

Trump vetoed a invoice in Congress final 12 months in search of to finish US backing for the Saudi-led warfare effort.

The United Nations warned final month that Yemen may see the worst famine in many years.

Nader Hashemi, director of the Center for Middle East Studies on the University of Denver, mentioned the deliberate US arms sale to Saudi Arabia is “a moral outrage”.

“This new shipment of arms only deepens American complicity with the crisis in Yemen, widely viewed to be the worst humanitarian crisis on our planet,” Hashemi advised Al Jazeera in an e mail Thursday.

“This new shipment of arms needs to be understood in relation to Trump’s final days office. He is pardoning his corrupt friends and allies and absolving Blackwater guards of war crimes in Iraq, for which they were convicted in a US court of law.”

The Washington Post additionally reported this week that the US is weighing a request to grant MBS immunity from US federal prosecution in a case involving alleged threats made towards a former high Saudi intelligence officer.

‘Outrageous’

“This is no time to be selling bombs to Saudi Arabia given its role in killing thousands of civilians in air strikes on targets in Yemen,” mentioned William Hartung, director of the arms and safety programme on the Center for International Policy, a non-profit group in Washington, DC, in regards to the reported arms deal.

Hartung mentioned in an e mail that the sale to Riyadh, like a current $23bn US arms take care of the UAE, may allow violations of worldwide humanitarian regulation.

“The fact that the Trump administration is pushing these deals on its way out the door is outrageous. Congress and the incoming Biden administration should block these sales as soon as possible,” Hartung advised Al Jazeera.

US President-elect Joe Biden, who will likely be inaugurated on January 20, has promised to “reassess” the US-Saudi relationship when he takes workplace.

“Under 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,” Biden mentioned in October.