Human Lives Human Rights: A total of 47 aid groups on Monday published a joint letter to Congress urging them to block the Biden administration’s “wrongful” planned $650 million arms sale to the repressive monarchy of Saudi Arabia.
Denouncing the Saudi-led coalition’s war crimes in Yemen, which are often perpetrated with U.S. supplied weapons, the groups said: “The U.S. involvement should have ended following Biden’s declaration to end U.S. support for the coalition.”
The core problem is the proposed sale of 280 AIM-120C-7/C-8 advanced medium-range air-to-air missiles and 596 LAU-128 missile rail launchers in a package that would also include spare parts, support, and logistical services.
The missiles, which would be fitted to Saudi fighter jets, are manufactured by Raytheon, on whose board Lloyd Austin sat before becoming U.S. defense secretary this year.
The groups urge the members of Congress to pass resolutions by Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) to block the sale and end “U.S. complicity in the Saudi-led coalition’s gross violations of international law in Yemen, including its blockade.”
The letter read: “For nearly seven years, U.S.-supported Saudi forces have unlawfully targeted civilian objects and infrastructure via indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks that have killed and injured thousands of civilians in Yemen.”
“These aerial bombardments include myriad war crimes and have exacerbated the catastrophic humanitarian crisis, noting the Saudi military’s use of U.S.-manufactured weapons in airstrikes that have hit hospitals, schools, and civilian homes, killing healthcare providers, teachers, and entire families, including children.”
Last December, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimated that the Saudi-led war had caused 233,000 deaths, “including 131,000 from indirect causes such as lack of food, health services, and infrastructure” exacerbated by the blockade.
Last week, the United Nations Development Program published a report projecting the war’s death toll will reach 377,000 by the end of the year, with children under the age of five accounting for 70% of the casualties.
The authors of the letter stressed that the U.S. involvement should have ended following President Biden’s declaration to end U.S. support for the coalition,” referring to the president’s February announcement that his administration would stop backing “offensive operations,” including weapons transfers, in the war.
The Biden administration in its very first weeks committed both to center human rights in foreign policy and to end U.S. complicity in the war in Yemen. However, allowing this sale to stand breaks that commitment, and would be a human rights failure.