US Announces $1 Billion in Arms Sales to Saudi Arabia

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Saudi Arabia is the largest buyer of American-made weapons, as the US used al Qaeda as an ally to fight ISIS and radical Islamic terrorism in Iraq and Syria.

"This proposed sale will support US foreign policy and national security objectives by improving the security of a friendly country which has been, and continues to be, an important force for political stability and economic growth in the Middle East", the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, which oversees foreign military sales, said.

But campaigners, including some U.S. legislators, are urging western governments to halt or limit arms sales to Saudi Arabia because of its involvement in a devastating civil war in Yemen.

The proposed sale is bound to be questioned by Congress where the Senate this week rejected a bipartisan effort to halt U.S. military support for the bombing campaign in Yemen. These contracts are therefore now expected to be nodded through after the State Department and Pentagon gave the go-ahead and Trump publicly celebrated the prospect of the sales.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said on Thursday that the relationship between Saudi Arabia and the United States has extended for many years and is built on trust and strategic partnership.

"We believe that Saudi Arabia is part of the solution", Mattis said. The MSS supports the Royal Saudi Land Forces Aviation Command's fleet of AH-64D/E, UH-60L, Schweizer 333 and Bell 406CS helicopters.

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Saudi Arabia's crown prince received an effusive welcome on Tuesday at the White House from U.S. President Donald Trump, who hailed a "great friendship" with the kingdom-but made no public mention of the sticking points in the burgeoning alliance. The defense secretary talked up the idea of a "political solution", and praised the Saudis for backing the "UN-recognized" government of Yemen.

The UK-based rights group said the arms sales have been an "enormous harm to Yemeni civilians" over the course of the war.

"But this has not deterred the USA, UK, and other states, including France, Spain and Italy, from continuing transfers of billions of dollars' worth of such arms", it added.

The rights group documented violations of global law by all warring parties, including the Iran-backed Houthi rebels. The rights monitor recovered a portion of one of the bombs used in the strike that had Raytheon production markings and a manufacture date of October 2015.

Overall, Amnesty said it had documented 36 Saudi-led coalition attacks in which 513 civilians were killed, "many of which may amount to war crimes".