The US administration has given the green light to a $1.3 billion sale of artillery to Saudi Arabia, ignoring reports that its weapons have greatly contributed to a high rate of civilian deaths amid Riyadh’s war on Yemen.
President Donald Trump’s administration told the Congress of the planned sale late on Thursday, according to the State Department.
The package of arms planned to be sold to the Saudis include about 180 Paladin howitzer artillery-firing vehicles, systems that look like a combination of a tank and a cannon and are capable of firing 155mm shells.
The Congress has now 30 days to stop the new US arms sale to Saudi Arabia although it seems highly unlikely as the White House normally seeks the approval of key lawmakers before making such announcements.
This is a second major weapons deal between the US and Saudi Arabia during a trip by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the US. The young prince arrived in Washington two weeks ago and has already signed a deal that involved more than $1 billion in missiles.
Saudi Arabia was the first country Trump visited after taking office last year. It was announced during his visit to Riyadh that Washington could sell $110 billion in military equipment to Saudi Arabia in a period of 10 years. The State Department said at the time that the deal could grow to $350 billion over a decade.
The massive arms sales come despite repeated international calls on the US to stop supporting the Saudis with modern weaponry, which the kingdom has, according to many reports, used in its devastating war on Yemen.
Around 14,000 civilians, many of them civilians, have been killed in over three years of Saudi military adventure in Yemen.
Washington has denied it is directly supplying the Saudis with weapons in the war but numerous reports have suggested that US arms have played a part in massive civilian casualties.
This is while the US military admitted last month that the US Central Command does not track how Riyadh uses Washington-supplied planes and munitions.A report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) revealed last month the US has increased its arms sales by 25-percent over the past five years.
It also said some half of US arms exports during that period have gone to the Middle East, and that Saudi Arabia registered a 225-percent rise in military purchases – almost all from the US and Europe.