Saudi army artillery fire shells towards Houthi positions from the Saudi border with Yemen April 13, 2015. .
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Arms sold by the United States to Saudi Arabia have been passed on to extremist groups in Yemen and have even landed in the hands of Iranian-backed rebels, potentially exposing sensitive information to the Iranian regime, an investigative report by CNN revealed on Monday.
The findings show that Saudi Arabia has violated US agreements about transferring such weapons.
The weapons were transferred directly by the Saudi government and its coalition partners to groups waging war on its behalf to push the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels
out of Yemen, which has been torn apart by the struggle for power since 2015.
The investigation found that guns, anti-tank missiles, armored vehicles, heat-seeking lasers and artillery are all being traded on the black market in Yemen, with little accountability over who acquires these weapons.
Among others, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) now counts US-produced armored vehicles of the Oshkosh brand among its inventory. AQAP is considered a terrorist organization by the US, yet it fights alongside Saudi-backed militias in Yemen and belongs to the coalition-supported 35th Brigade of the Yemeni army.
But Iranian-supported militias fighting the coalition have also captured some of the military hardware, giving Iranian intelligence the opportunity to gain sensitive information on US military technology.
A member of the Preventative Security Force, a secret unit overseeing transfers of military technology to and from Tehran, confirmed to CNN that the Iranians have thoroughly inspected mine-resistant ambush-protected (MRAP) vehicles they had captured. This is particularly worrying to the US military because improvised explosive devices are the main cause of deaths of American troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Taking into account the inability to track all of the equipment that has been transferred to Saudi Arabia, the findings raise questions about whether the US administration can trust the kingdom to handle such important weaponry after it has become evident that they are handing out these arms in return for loyalty and influence.
American support for Saudi Arabia is at a recent low after the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi
last October caused outrage and led many voices inside Congress to call on US President Donald Trump to put an end to his friendly ties with the monarchy, a request the American president is not likely to heed.
In the wake of the Khashoggi scandal, Trump said it would be foolish to cancel the multi-billion dollar arms deals with Saudi Arabia.
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