The US is scaling back some arms sales to Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom's conduct fighting rebels in Yemen has raised concerns
The Obama administration is suspending certain arms sales to Saudi Arabia and limiting military support for the kingdom’s campaign in Yemen over concerns about civilian casualties, two administration sources said Tuesday.
“We are continually assessing the appropriate level of support to the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, to ensure it is consistent with our foreign policy goals and values,” one official said. “Recently, we decided to make some adjustments to that support that will enable us to further support a strong defense of the Saudi border.”
The suspension includes precision-guided munitions, the officials said, citing systemic problems with Saudi targeting in the campaign in Yemen. Riyadh is supporting the ousted government there in its battle with Iranian-backed rebels.
The US has grown increasingly concerned about Saudi tactics in a near two-year war that has become a humanitarian catastrophe, killing more than 10,000, displacing 3 million and causing widespread food shortages.
“It was an interagency review, involving the State Department, Department of Defense and other relevant departments and agencies responsible for security assistance programming,” according to a US defense official.
“The goal of the review was to ensure that our limited support for the Saudi-led coalition is consistent with our foreign policy goals and values,” one of the officials said.
“We continue to have concerns about the conflict in Yemen and how it has been waged, most especially the air campaign,” the official continued. “This review reflects our continued, strong concerns with the flaws in the coalition’s targeting practices and overall prosecution of the air campaign in Yemen. ”
As part of the review of the campaign in Yemen, the administration is also retooling programs for training of Saudis Arabia’s air force to improve its targeting practices, the officials said.
One of the officials added that the US is “also exploring how to refocus training for the Saudi air force to address these kinds of issues. We have also undertaken steps to refocus our information-sharing and our personnel in Saudi Arabia. “
The administration has pushed a political settlement as the best way for Saudi Arabia to protect its border.
Last month Secretary of State John Kerry traveled to Oman to negotiate a ceasefire between Riyadh and the Iran-allied Houthi movement, even meeting with Houthis himself.