The U.S. State Department approved the potential sale of over 130 Abrams battle tanks, 20 armored vehicles and other equipment to Saudi Arabia worth a whopping $1.15 billion. This approval coincides with Saudi Arabia currently leading a military coalition in support of a faction of Yemeni forces. According to the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), the sale of equipment to Saudi Arabia will enhance her ability to operate along with the U.S. A notice from the Agency said,
This sale will increase the Royal Saudi Land Forces’s (RSLF) interoperability with U.S. forces and conveys U.S. commitment to Saudi Arabia’s security and armed forces modernization.
Saudi Arabia, along with her Gulf Arab allies, intervened in Yemeni civil war in March of 2015 soon after the Houthi movement had pushed the Hadi administration into exile in Saudi Arabia.
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On Tuesday, the Saudi-led military coalition launched air strikes on Sanaa for the first time in five months. According to the medics, nine civilians were killed. A researcher with Human Rights Watch, Kristine Beckerle said,
The Saudi-led coalition’s campaign in Yemen has been devastating for civilians (and) the U.S. should be suspending arms sales to Saudi Arabia, not approving more.
Also included in the sale of equipment to Saudi Arabia are 153 .50-caliber machine guns, 266 7.62mm M240 machine guns, smoke grenade launchers, armored recovery vehicles and a range of other hardware. In a statement, DSCA said,
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This proposed sale [of equipment to Saudi Arabia] will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a strategic regional partner which has been and continues to be a leading contributor of political stability and economic progress in the Middle East.