The consequences of selling arms to Saudi Arabia

Hagar Yahia holds her 5-year-old daughter Awsaf, who is suffering from malnourishment from living mainly off of bread and tea, in this Feb. 9, 2018 photo in Abyan, Yemen. (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty)

On Aug. 9, a laser-guided bomb hit a school bus in Yemen, killing dozens of children; some of the victims’ bodies were so mutilated they could not be identified. A week later, CNN reported that the 500-pound weapon had been sold to Saudi Arabia by Lockheed Martin. In 2016 a similar strike killed 155 people at a funeral hall in Yemen, and a U.S.-made bomb killed 97 people at a Yemeni market, two events that prompted the Obama administration to ban U.S. companies from selling precision-guided military technology to the Saudis. The ban did not last long: It was lifted in March 2017 by then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

The previous administration got it right. The United States has no immediate security interests in the military campaign, led by the Saudis and backed by the Yemeni government, against the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen. The conflict has led to thousands of civilian deaths, caused famine conditions and produced a cholera outbreak. Last month, Kareem Fahim of The Washington Post reported that the civilian death toll in Yemen could now be as high as 50,000.

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The United States must bear responsibility for exacerbating what a U.N. fact-finding team has called “the world’s largest humanitarian crisis.” The U.S. government has provided the Saudi-led air campaign with mid-air refueling and military advice, but the billions of dollars in arms sales to the Saudi-led coalition has had the most serious consequences. Fortunately, U.S. policy may be changing. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has reportedly discussed the need to investigate the air strike on the school bus with a Saudi prince, and last month President Trump signed a defense spending bill calling on the State Department to certify that Saudi Arabia is making a genuine effort to reduce civilian casualties.

Attention to the role of advanced weaponry bought from U.S. companies must intensify, and these arms sales must be curtailed if the Saudis cannot bring their military operations in Yemen under control.

Stuart Meisenzahl
1 week 4 days ago

EDITORS:
The predicate of your argument is "The United States has no immediate security interest in the military campaign....." (in Yemen).

That is an interesting observation which is unfortunately not underpinned by the Editors defining exactly what constitutes or does not constitute an.."immediate security interest". Did Germany's invasion of Poland in WW11 involve an "immediate US security interest" ?......How about its subsequent invasion of France and the assault on Britain? Certainly by now we must have learned not to wait for the full maturation of a security threat before taking action.
One look at the map of the Middle East demonstrates that Iranian control of Yemen will yield a result quite similar to Iran's control of Hezbollah and Hamas in Lebanon and Gaza but with far greater implications to control of international waterways,including the southern entrance to the Red Sea and the Suez Canal. In fact one only needs to ask why Iran supports the Houthi rebels to immediately understand the strategic need to be engaged in support of the Saudis.
It is more than unfortunate that all Middle East Wars seem to involve the extremes of unbridled cruelty and violence but our own experience in the Pacific in WW11 indicates that ignoring such cruelty to civilians in China and Korea only lead to even greater subsequent violence. That violence to civilians existed in Yemen before Saudi involvement
I certainly agree the US should do whatever possible to limit the Saudi's Ignoring civilian casualties but it is a step way to far for the Editors to state that there is no "immediate [United States] security interest" in the Yemen conflict.

rose-ellen caminer
1 week 4 days ago

You'd think there would also be a call to let in some Yemenis as refugees, but like the Syrians who also were being bombed by their own government, there is no clamor to do so. No such clamor was directed against Putin/Assad's crimes against humanity. As a matter of fact, the attitude by Americans was;Muslims killing Muslims let Allah sort it out, and "Assad is good to Christians",or let Putin intervene, when Assad crossed a red line ultimatum gaffe [gaffe because he never wanted to stop Assad] that Obama made. Only McCain took a principled stand and said that Assad's crimes against humanity needed to be stopped. He was vilified for it.[ Now in death he's a hero; Americans revise history as they go along] .Americans are more concerned with virtue signaling by demanding that people from Central America escaping drug gangs and domestic violence be granted asylum as refugees then clamoring to let in these Yemenis escaping bombs starvation and targeted genocide. Those people matter; Yemenis only matter because the perpetrators are Saudi's., who we are ostensibly allied with and who we arm yet who most Americans would love to nuke !If the perps were not, the concern would be as it has been for Syrians;let Allah sort it out.it's really not our problem and lets make sure we don't let em in here . As our Supreme Court has allowed for the banning of people escaping crimes against humanity , if they are Arab/Muslim, that is!!

Stanley Kopacz
1 week 4 days ago

Saudi Arabia cooperates with the US by flooding the world market with oil, driving down the economies of countries we don't like like Venezuela. I'm sure support for Saudi military actions in Yemen and the arms sales are all part of the deal.

Stuart Meisenzahl
1 week 2 days ago

Stanley
Re Your alleged oil conspiracy:
Venezuela Socialist Government is to blame for its downfall...From one of the richest countries in the world to the poorest over the course of 20+ years....shipped billions to support other failing socialist countries like Cuba and impoverished the Venezuelans in the process. Any check of oil prices for just the past ten years will demonstrate the falsity of your claim...on average oil prices were at all time historic highs.
During those years Venezuela's Chavez sought to compromise his neighbors by infusing Venezuelan cash into their economies. You may recall that in 2014 he even was providing free heating oil to certain US cities (Boston, Chicago, New York /Bronx) with photos of Joe Kennedy atop the Citgo delivery trucks!

Stanley Kopacz
1 week 2 days ago

Giving free heating oil to poor people. Yep. Pretty nasty crap. As for the price of oil, I buy gas and look at the gas station signs. Everyone knows what happened to the price of a barrel of oil a few years ago. Anybody can figure what happens to an oil revenue dependent economy. As for aid to other failed countries, try trillions in "aid" we've spent so far on wars like Afghanistan and Iraq that has impoverished OUR nation.

Stuart Meisenzahl
1 week 1 day ago

Stanley
Feeble deflection ...it was you who raised the issue: the US uses oil prices to harm Venezuela and when your assertion fails the test of fact respecting historic oil prices you just switch to US aid in former war locations. BTW : Venezuela was in a death spiral before oil prices collapsed.
Your attempt to avoid the contradiction to your position in Chavez giving away his people's oil by referring to it as ....."giving it to the poor" in the Unites States simply ignores that is all too typical Socialist policy to export its politics at the expense of its own people's economic interest. Venezuela is an extraordinary example of a country bankrupting itself in the process of subverting other nations and promoting a Socialist agenda.

Stanley Kopacz
1 week 1 day ago

Sorry to deflect you with facts. Well, you're obfuscating, Stuart. Average of oil price was higher over a decade? That's like saying someone in a hermetically sealed chamber should be alive because the chamber was pure oxygen for 19 hours and one percent for the last hour. The average was higher than normal so he must have killed himself. It's economic shock when oil barrel prices plunge from $105 to $34 in 19 months. It's called economic shock. It closed a lot of fracking wells in this country before it hit $34. It brought back the SUV and depressed the Prius. So kindly don't gaslight me. And countries conspire all the time. It's what they do.

Stuart Meisenzahl
1 week ago

Stanley
Before that price crash the price per barrel was in the $100 + range for an very extended period of time.......the oil crash lasted about 20 months. If the richest country in Latin America's oil based economy can collapses in 20 months...an economic shock in your words....it is because it is/was so incredibly, poorly run. in Venezuela's case it spent both its current and future profits on support Cuba and exporting socialism to its neighbors
Even at $34 per barrel Venezuela can profitably produce since its costs are about $27.....and that cost includes paying a large group of employees which wages are recycled into Its economy. See "Market Watch" March 2,2017 in an article called "Venezuelan Oil Production May Tumble by 20%in 2017". That article succinctly analyzes that Venezuela's problems stem from Hugo Chavez-Maduro Central planning a socialist "give away" economy on a permanent rate of $100 plus per barrel. In the process they chased out all the foreign investment necessary to create new wells and maintain existing ones.
You Stanley are "gas lighting yourself" by asserting that Venezuela's problems were created by other countries...it is just the inevitable collapse of the promised socialist nirvana .....another repetition of the horrendous Russian/Soviet experience.
Btw Stan: Venezuela is a member of OPEC and as such Saudi Arabia and Venezuela have historically been on the same page as allies in the sale of oil. . Further your theory about the US (and Saudi Arabia) historically flooding the market with oil to punish Venezuela et al also fails: The United States prohibited the export any US oil up until 2017!! The US had no oil to flood the market with! Venezuela has been on the ropes for 5 + years.

J Cosgrove
1 day 6 hours ago

North Dakota just passed Venezuela in oil production.

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