US Seeks Saudi Assurances on Limiting Yemen Civilian Casualties Ahead of Arms Sales

Growing Congressional Concerns 'Complicate' Sale

by Jason Ditz, April 20, 2017

Last month, the Trump Administration announced its intentions to resume all halted US arms sales to Saudi Arabia related to their war in Yemen. That’s likely to still happen, but now the administration is trying to get assurances from Saudi Arabia on limiting the number of Yemeni civilians they kill in the future.

Officials say that the sudden interest in such assurances is not reflective of any change in policy, but rather the result of objections from a number of Congressmen, mainly Democrats, and a lot of human rights groups,  who they say “complicated the matter.”

With the Saudis having killed thousands of Yemeni civilians over the past two years, there was considerable concern among rights groups that putting the sales “on hold” over civilian deaths, then resuming them without asking for such assurances would be tantamount to giving the Saudis approval for continuing their reckless strikes.

At the same time, officials say that the sales have “no strings attached,” and it appears that they intend to follow through with the arms sales whether or not the Saudis are willing to provide commitments. It’s probable the Saudis will give such commitments, of course, since they’ve done so in the past and the US never holds them to following through on the promises.

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