Saudi Arabia agrees to buy $7 bln in precision munitions from US firms

Arms sales to the kingdom and other Gulf Cooperation Council member states have become increasingly contentious in the US Congress.

By REUTERS
November 23, 2017 10:29
3 minute read.
donald trump visits riyadh

US President Donald Trump shakes hands with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the United Arab Emirates Armed Forces Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahayan as he sits down to a meeting with of Gulf Cooperation Council leaders during their summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (photo credit: JONATHAN ERNST / REUTERS)

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later Don't show it again

Saudi Arabia has agreed to buy about $7 billion worth of precision guided munitions from US defense contractors, sources familiar with the matter said, a deal that some lawmakers may object to over American weapons having contributed to civilian deaths in the Saudi campaign in Yemen.

Raytheon Co and Boeing Co are the companies selected, the sources said, in a deal that was part of a $110 billion weapons agreement that coincided with President Donald Trump's visit to Saudi Arabia in May.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.


Both companies declined comment on the weapons sale.

Arms sales to the kingdom and other Gulf Cooperation Council member states have become increasingly contentious in the US Congress, which must approve such sales.

The US State Department has yet to formally notify Congress of the precision guided munitions deal.

"We do not comment to confirm or deny sales until they are formally notified to Congress," a State Department official said, adding the US government will take into account factors "including regional balance and human rights as well as the impact on the US defense industrial base."

The Yemen civil war pits Iran-allied Houthi rebels against the government, backed by a Saudi-led Arab coalition. Nearly 4,800 civilians have been killed since March 2015, the United Nations said in March.



Saudi Arabia has either denied attacks or cited the presence of fighters in the targeted areas and has said it has tried to reduce civilian casualties.

Saudi Arabia's Ambassador to Washington, Prince Khalid bin Salman declined to comment on the specific sale, but said in a statement his country will follow through on the agreements signed during Trump's visit.

He said that while the kingdom has always chosen the United States for weapons purchases, "Saudi Arabia's market selection remains a choice and is committed to defending its security."

Trump, a Republican who views weapons sales as a way to create jobs in the United States, has announced billions of dollars in arms sales since taking office in January.

A US government official who spoke on condition of anonymity said the agreement is designed to cover a 10-year period and it could be years before actual transfers of weapons take place.

The agreement could be held up in Congress, where Bob Corker, the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, announced in June that he would block arms sales to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other members of the GCC, over a dispute with Qatar, another US ally in the Gulf.

In November 2016, the administration of President Barack Obama, a Democrat, halted the sale of $1.29 billion worth of precision guided weapons because of concerns about the extent of civilian casualties in Yemen.

That sale process started in 2015 and included more than 8,000 Laser Guided Bombs for the Royal Saudi Air Force. The package also included more than 10,000 general purpose bombs, and more than 5,000 tail kits used to inexpensively convert "dumb" bombs into laser or GPS-guided weapons.

US lawmakers have grown increasingly critical of the Saudi-led campaign in Yemen. The coalition had briefly banned naval, air and land transportation to Yemen following a missile fired by the Houthis that was shot down over the Saudi capital Riyadh.

The Senate in June voted 53 to 47 to narrowly defeat legislation that sought to block portions of the 2015 package.

David Des Roches, a senior military fellow at the Near East South Asia Center for Security Studies in Washington was aware of the deal but said the Saudis "are one errant strike away from moving five or six senators over to the other side."

Denying Saudi Arabia precision guided munitions was unlikely to change their behavior, he said.

"Saudi Arabia has shown they will fight in Yemen and they're going to keep on fighting in Yemen regardless of what we think," Des Roches said.

Related Content

Muslim pilgrims circle the Kaaba and pray at the Grand mosque ahead of annual Hajj pilgrimage in  Me
August 21, 2018
The Changing Faces of Eid Al-Adha

By JINITZAIL HERNANDEZ/THE MEDIA LINE