US Trims Some Arms Sales to Saudi Arabia Over Yemen Civilian Deaths

White House Concerned With Targeting 'Flaws'

In a surprise move, the United States has announced that they will halt sales certain munitions sales to Saudi Arabia today, citing growing concerns about “flaws” in Saudi targeting in the Yemen war, which is leading to a huge number of civilian deaths.

Officials quoted in Reuters described a “systemic, endemic” problem with Saudi targeting in the war, and decided that they could no longer sell certain “air-dropped” weaponry to the Saudis. The shift is surprising, as US officials have repeatedly claimed support for the Saudi war, but it isn’t necessarily a huge shift.

The US sells an enormous amount of arms to Saudi Arabia yearly, and officials aren’t providing clarity on just how big this “certain” sales halt amounts to. The expectation is that it is minor. Perhaps more problematic, the US is going to continue to provide mid-air refueling for the Saudi warplanes to continue the objectionable bombing campaign.

US officials say they wanted to make it clear that sales to Saudi Arabia weren’t a “blank check,” though in practice the big concern was likely legal liability, as a growing number of groups have warned the US may face legal repercussions for participating so heavily in Saudi war crimes.

Halting even a few sales may provide some legal cover for administration lawyers to argue they acted to limit Saudi war crimes, but at the end of the day, US warplanes are still refueling US-made warplanes dropping US-made bombs on civilians.

Last 5 posts by Jason Ditz

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of

  • survivor

    Targeting ‘Flaws’???? No, deliberate targeting. Make no mistake about it. Obama, Kerry, and the Saudi leader should be held to account for their war crimes against Yemen. These a-holes just love to accuse everyone else of war crimes when they do just the same and worse.

  • Adriaan de Leeuw

    But not for supplying them to an Al Qaeda group? The Saudis have been both funding and providing weapons including TOW anti tank missiles to Al Nusra front, in direct contravention of many US laws!

  • niceEisbear

    Trimming ? Wow, there’s a bold response to war criminals.

  • Bianca

    Supply of tissues will be cut way down. Who would have thought that US can supply afms to insane Kingdom that hates Yemen for over thousand of years after Shia fled into Yemeni mountains. We are a sick nation to allow this. Now we have cheerfuy sent ISIS reinforcements to Raqqa to get Palmyra again. No crying from humanitarians or antiquity lovers — just happy that ISIS got it back from Syria and Russia. Now a general is posturing asking Russia to get it back — putting blame on Russia for loss of Palmyra.

    More boneheaded ideas from this acministration. Hmmm. I was wonderong why is Russia so phlegmatic about it. I see now. Just waited for blame game to start. So what if Russia takes it to be invitation to take a fight to both Daer Azzor and Raqqa? What if in order to get this ISIS force under control it has to attack ISIS military assets in Raqqa province, the territory now under exclusive US. air control? Will crying of war crimes start flying as soon as ISIS is hit credibly. What if Russia takes aim
    at border to prevent ISIS from moving into Syria. In order to take Palmyra back this time there will be no relying on US controling or at least containing ISIS that has been here for years and years with US avoiding to trully harm them. The end game id coming — and I thought that Syria and Russia had no known reason to get involved in this US preserve of Raqqa — suddenly it is a brand new movie.