US approves $1.29 bn worth smart bombs sale to Saudi Arabia

US State Department approves sales of smart bombs, other weapons worth $1.29 billion to renew depleting supplies of Saudi Arabia

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Smoke rises from an army weapons depot hit by a Saudi-led air strike in a mountain in Sanaa, Yemen October 25, 2015

The United States approved a $1.29 billion worth deal for the sale of smart bombs and other weaponery to Saudi Arabia to replenish its depleting supplies after operations in Yemen and Syria.

Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) said to the lawmakers on Friday that the sale to the Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) had been approved, whose stocks are low "due to the high operational tempo in multiple counter-terrorism operations."

There are over 19,000 smart bombs to be urgently delivered in order to make up for the depleting supplies.

Congress now has a month to block the sale, but that’s unlikely to happen because deals are vetted carefully before giving a formal notification.

Saudi Arabia has been one of the most avid customers of US arms industry, but the tensions between the two allies were strained after the nuclear deal with Shiite rival Iran.

DSCA said in a statement that the “acquisition will help sustain strong military-to-military relations between the United States and Saudi Arabia, improve with the United States, and enable Saudi Arabia to meet regional threats and safeguard the world's largest oil reserves."

Saudi Arabia has been leading several other Gulf states in air strikes against the Iranian backed Houthi rebels in Yemen since late March to help reinstate Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi.

The air strikes in Yemen have been widely criticised for the high number of civilian casualties.

World Health Organisation reports over 5,000 deaths and more than 25,000 injured in Yemen, and Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has verified over 8,000 human rights violations – which makes an average of 43 violations per day.

"Human Rights Watch has documented more than two dozen airstrikes that appeared to be in violation of the laws of war," US-based monitor Human Rights watch said.

Saudi Arabia insists that it takes care to avoid civilian casualties.

TRTWorld and agencies