US to provide $1.29 billion worth of smart bombs to Saudi Arabia

The sale of the bombs will help replenish supplies used mostly in the bombing of Houthi insurgents in Yemen, although the Saudis participated in some attacks on the Islamic State in Syria as well.
 
The Defense Security Cooperation Agency(DSCA) that facilitates arms sales to other countries, notified the U.S. Congress last Friday that sales of the bombs had been approved. Congress could block the sale but that is highly unlikely. President Obama already has pledged to bolster U.S. military aid to the Saudis as well as other allies in the Gulf Cooperation Council(GCC). The pledge was meant to compensate those countries who were opposed to the U.S. nuclear deal with Shiite Iran. Iran supports the Shiite Houthi rebels in Yemen.
The agency said the sale would help the Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) replenish dwindling weapons supplies while providing reserves for future missions. Most of the bombs were used against the Houthis in Yemen. The bombing campaign began in March of this year. The agency said:"This acquisition will help sustain strong military-to-military relations between the United States and Saudi Arabia, improve (the ability of Saudi forces to work) with the United States, and enable Saudi Arabia to meet regional threats and safeguard the world's largest oil reserves."The agency also said providing the munitions showed the U.S. commitment to the RSAF's ability to carry out combat operations. No doubt, as well, the provision of the arms shows U.S. commitment to generate profits for its arms manufacturers.
The U.S. even has sold cluster bombs to the Saudis. Though there is a global treaty banning the use of the bombs, neither the US nor Saudi Arabia have signed it. The bombs have been used by the Saudis against the Houthis in Yemen.
The agency described the items to be provided as follows:The proposed sale includes 22,000 smart and general purpose bombs, including 1,000 GBU-10 Paveway II Laser Guided Bombs, and over 5,000 Joint Direct Attack Munitions kits to turn older bombs into precision-guided weapons using GPS signals.The weapons are made by Boeing Co (BA.N) and Raytheon Co (RTN.N), but the agency told lawmakers the prime contractors would be selected in a competition.The sale is just one of several recent multi-billion dollar sales to Saudi Arabia.
In September the sale of 600 Patriot-PAC-3 air defense missiles made by Lockheed Martin Corp was valued at $5.4 billion. In October the US also approved the sale of four Littoral Combat Ships made by Lockheed for $11.25 billion. The US has supplied more than $90 billion worth of military equipment to the Saudis from 2010 and 2015..
Amnesty International complained that some of the types of bombs the US is providing to the Saudis have been used previously in strikes that violated international law. Last month Amnesty released a report that uncovered a number of attacks that were directed against civilians, and other unlawful strikes that could be war crimes. The group asked the U.S. and other countries to stop selling certain types of arms to the Saudis. A hospital run by Doctors Without Borders was hit but numerous other hospitals have been targeted. Also heritage sites have been damaged or destroyed.
An estimated 5,604 people including 2,577 civilians have been killed since the Saudi campaign began in March. The campaign is attempting to restore the Mansour Hadi government which until recently had been in exile in Riyadh Saudi Arabia. Forces loyal to the government have retaken the port city of Aden and other areas in the south, and Hadi is establishing his government again in Aden. However, Houthis still occupy the capital, Sanaa, and there are fierce battles ongoing. The Saudis have supporting troops from the UAE, Sudan and elsewhere. While there have been several attempts at peace talks so far they have been unsuccessful and the Houthis have objected to some features of recent proposed talks. The Saudi forces are launching an offensive in the Taez area. The conflict has created a huge humanitarian disaster with many people fleeing combat areas or even the country. There are shortages of basic necessities in many areas, particularly those under Houthi control due to the Saudi blockade.


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