WASHINGTON (Agencies): Reports suggest that the Biden administration is considering lifting restrictions on weapons sales to Saudi Arabia, a move initiated by Riyadh’s involvement in peace negotiations with the Houthi militia in Yemen. The ban on offensive weapons sales to Saudi Arabia was imposed by the Biden administration two years ago, citing concerns over human rights violations and war crimes.
Anonymous American and Saudi officials disclosed that recent weeks have seen Saudi officials urging U.S. lawmakers and presidential aides to reconsider the ban, emphasizing the need to enhance the kingdom’s defense capabilities along its southern border with Yemen. The original ban was implemented due to fears that U.S.-supplied weapons were contributing to civilian suffering in Yemen during Riyadh’s conflict with the Iran-backed Houthi militia.
The proposed relaxation of the ban, which currently prohibits the sale of major offensive weapons to Saudi Arabia, is being weighed against the kingdom’s strategic requirements for safeguarding its southern border and managing escalating tensions in the region. The decision is underscored by concerns arising from recent Houthi attacks on ships passing through the Bab al-Mandeb strait to the Red Sea, leading to fears of a potential regional conflict.
The New York Times report indicates that U.S. officials have not specified a timeline for easing the ban, leaving room for speculation. The potential decision is subject to an ongoing assessment by President Biden and his administration, with the possibility of reversal if it is deemed contrary to American interests to resume the flow of offensive weapons to Saudi Arabia.