Frustrated by a growing death toll, the White House has quietly placed a hold on the transfer of cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia as the Sunni ally continues its bloody war on Shiite rebels in Yemen, U.S. officials tell Foreign Policy. It’s the first concrete step the United States has taken to demonstrate its unease with the Saudi bombing campaign that human rights activists say has killed and injured hundreds of Yemeni civilians, many of them children.
The move follows rising criticism by U.S. lawmakers of America’s support for the oil-rich monarchy in the year-long conflict. Washington has sold weapons and provided training, targeting information, and aerial refueling support to the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen. It has also sold Riyadh millions of dollars’ worth of cluster bombs in recent years.
Asked about the hold on the shipments, a senior U.S. official cited reports that the Saudi-led coalition used cluster bombs “in areas in which civilians are alleged to have been present or in the vicinity.”
“We take such concerns seriously and are seeking additional information,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The US foreign policy establishment has viewed the House of Saud as a crucial ally in the region for longer than I have been alive, and I cannot imaging that this decision appears not to have come from there.
I am pretty sure that this came from the Oval Office, and cynic that I am, I am thinking that this decision was driven by electoral considerations, specifically that Trump would use our cozy relationship with Riyadh against Hillary Clinton in the upcoming election.