The U.S. will sell $1.15 billion worth of tanks, guns and other military gear to Saudi Arabia, as the country with one of the world's worst human rights records continues its war on Yemeni rebels.
"This proposed sale 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,” The U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency said on its website. “This sale will increase the Royal Saudi Land Force’s (RSLF) interoperability with U.S. forces and conveys U.S. commitment to Saudi Arabia's security and armed forces modernization.”
Although the sale is substantial, it's only a small part of recent arms sales to the Saudis. In 2015, the U.S. sold $20 billion in military equipment to the Gulf country, reported The Washington Post.
The influx of weapons, tanks, planes, and other military equipment comes at a time when the Saudi military, with assistance from the U.S. military, has escalated its attacks on Houthi rebels in Yemen, but have also killed many civilians in the process.
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On Aug. 10, the Independent reported that 14 civilians died when Saudi forces bombed a potato chip factory. Since the conflict began in 2015, when the U.S. increased arms sales to Saudi Arabia, there have been more than 6,500 people have been killed in Yemen, more than half of them civilians, according to the Norwegian Refugee Council.
In addition, about 2.4 million Yemenis have been displaced as a result of the Saudi-led attacks, according to The Washington Post. And more than 21 million people -- nearly the entire country -- are in need of humanitarian assistance.
Although human rights groups have urged the U.S. to halt arms sales to Saudi Arabia, the oil-rich country is considered a strong ally to the U.S. and politicians are reluctant to offend the oil-rich country, according to The Washington Post.