Allegations regarding the “peace-loving nature of Saudi Arabia and its aspirations amid the so-called fight against terrorism have been recently discussed by political circles across Western countries.
Western officials have unleashed particularly harsh criticism toward Riyadh in connection with its ongoing military operations in Yemen that have claimed civilian lives by the hundreds. For instance, the UN coordinator for the delivery of humanitarian aid to Yemen, Jamie McGoldrick, announced on August 30 that the Saudi armed intervention resulted in a civilian death toll of 10,000 people in just 18 months of fighting.
British political and business circles are now questioning the approval of the sale of 3 billion pounds worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia that London approved, similarly such concerns are being voiced in France, with Paris having sold up to 13 billion euros worth of weapons to Riyadh.
This year, Saudi Arabia has been particularly busy purchasing weapons from among the largest arms exporters in the world, including the United States, Germany and Canada. The total worth of all contracts exceeds a staggering sum of 16 billion dollars. A brief analysis of the weapons purchased by the Saudis indicates modernization attempts made in a bid to prepare for a large scale ground conflict.
Last June, Saudi Arabia purchased 419 Canadian LAV-6 lightly-armored infantry fighting vehicles also known as Kodiaks. In August, the United States approved the sale of 153 M1 Abrams main battle tanks to Saudi Arabia, a contract that will earn Washington 1.15 billion dollars. Additionally, Saudi Arabia is expected to purchase 153 .50 caliber heavy machine gun, 266 M240 medium machine guns, smoke grenade launchers and an extensive amount of equipment for field repairs for their new American-made tanks.
Along with the modernization of its ground forces, Riyadh continues to strengthen its naval fleet. In the first quarter of this year Riyadh has purchased 48 patrol ships (TNC-35s and FPB-38s) built in Germany.
The drastic increase in Saudi weapons imports is closely connected with Riyadh’s intervention in Yemen, and its possible confrontation with Iran, the conflict in Syria, and Saudi aspirations to take an active part in the resolution of various geopolitical crises across the Middle East in accordance with its own interests.
According to the The Boston Globe, certain representatives of US political circles opposed vigorously continuous arms shipments to Saudi Arabia. It’s been reported that a total of sixty-four members of the House of Representatives have signed a letter warning that the deal would have ” a deeply troubling effect on civilians“ in Yemen, where Saudi Arabia is conducting a fierce military campaign.
The United Nations has estimated that the Saudi-led coalition’s bombing Yemen is responsible for “twice as many civilian casualties as all other forces put together.” Yet the Obama administration wants to sell the Saudis 153 battle tanks made by General Dynamics, some of which are to be used in Yemen.
Since taking office in 2009, President Obama has made 42 arms deals with Saudi Arabia, worth a staggering 115 billion dollars. For some members of the US Congress, the latest deal represents a breaking point, since they are reluctant to send weapons that will be used first in Yemen and then in other conflicts likely to be equally as barbaric, serving Saudi, not American interests. “There is an American imprint on every civilian life lost. in Yemen, “said Senator Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat who is a co-sponsor of the resolution to block the deal. Another co-sponsor, Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, called the deal ”a recipe for disaster and an escalation of an ongoing arms race in the region.”
However, despite the attempts made by a number of American politicians to put an end to Saudi war crimes, the Senate voted 71 to 27 to kill legislation that would have stopped the 115 billion deals. The overwhelming vote stopped an effort led by Republican Senator Rand Paul and Democratic Senator Chris Murphy to block the deal over concerns including Saudi Arabia’s role in the 18-month-long war in Yemen and worries that it might fuel an ongoing regional arms race.
It is clear that Riyadh is not going to end its current campaign of regional aggression, leaving few other options other than banning United States arms sales to the Kingdom.
However, the voice of reason has been drowned out by the sheer greed by the pro-war lobby in Congress, providing Riyadh with carte blanche to carry on with its military interventions across the region, unhindered and unopposed. The US political establishment has once again shown its true face, as a willing accomplice, and approving any sort of massacre as long as it can obtain profits from it.