Facing Pressure to End Yemen Blockade, Saudis Want More US Arms

Saudis face calls to end naval blockade

Having invaded Yemen in 2015 with an eye toward reinstalling the Hadi government, Saudi Arabia is facing a reality where the war is being lost, and under growing pressure to end a naval blockade that has caused starvation in Yemen.

There are pushes to get a ceasefire in place, and ultimately end the war. While this would get the Saudis out of the negative coverage of the war, the kingdom seems to be focused on what they can get out of the US for heading down this path.

Saudi officials are emphasizing the need for missiles, air defenses, and attack drones, and are keen to get those from the US. The Saudis are pushing this despite having been buying billions of dollars in weapons annually during the Yemen War.

Since the Biden Administration is known to be making ending the war a priority, it is entirely possible they’ll throw more weapons at the Saudis if they think it might facilitate that end.

Whether that will actually help remains to be seen, as the Saudi interest in getting out of the war is less about the money they’ve wasted and the thousands they’ve killed, but about threatened international blacklists, more than a little focused on their chief import, weapons.

Hostility toward the Shi’ite Houthis will likely remain even if they manage to negotiate an end to the war. The Hadi government, by contrast, would be left with only parts of South Yemen, and fighting to hold on to that with the separatist groups.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for Antiwar.com. He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.