As part of its efforts to stop US support for Saudi Arabia’s “offensive” operations in Yemen, the Biden Administration has paused indefinitely two sales of precision-guided munitions to the Kingdom, Defense News reported on Friday.
The sales include 3,000 Boeing-made GBU-39 small diameter bombs, worth an estimated $290 million, and 7,000 Raytheon-made Paveway IV smart bombs. Both deals were pushed forward during the final weeks of the Trump administration.
Last week, reports said arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE were being put on hold. Defense News confirmed with US officials that the pause includes the Boeing and Raytheon bomb sales. Although some sales are on hold, the Biden administration approved its first weapons sales on Friday, including a Raytheon-made missile deal with Chile worth about $85 million.
President Biden left some wiggle room for other types of weapons sales to Saudi Arabia to continue. Announcing the change in US policy in Yemen on Thursday, Biden stressed the need to help Saudi Arabia from missile and drone attacks from the Houthis, attacks that wouldn’t be happening if it wasn’t for the US-Saudi siege and bombing campaign on Yemen.
Biden said he would stop all “relevant” arms sales to the Saudis, something an unnamed administration official repeated to Defense News. “We are ending all American support for offensive operations in Yemen, including relevant arms sales,” the official said.
The official noted the end of support for the Saudis will not stop Washington’s other war in Yemen. “Importantly, this does not apply to offensive operations against either ISIS or AQAP.”
Since 2015, the US helped enforce a blockade on Yemen and backed the Saudi-led coalition that frequently bombs civilian infrastructure. The coalition’s siege tactics led to widespread disease and mass starvation.