Biden Administration Cuts Arm Sales to Saudi Arabia


Janell Wang, Staff Writer

President Joe Biden has ordered an end to arms sales to Saudi Arabia in the war against Yemen, which he considers a “humanitarian and strategic catastrophe.” This pause in arms sales is also being applied to the United Arab Emirates. Announced on Feb. 4, the move shows President Biden’s clear intention of reversing former President Donald Trump’s foreign policy decisions.

Trump had been told before to put a stop to Saudi Arabia’s careless bombings, which have killed many people caught in the crossfire. The former president claimed that allowing the selling of weapons to Saudi Arabia would create more jobs in the U.S. 

This move was not entirely a surprise, as President Biden had stated before his plan to stop the arms sales in his presidential campaign. The Biden administration promised to stop the sale of precision-guided munitions worth around $478 million to Saudi Arabia, which had been approved by the U.S. State Department in December 2020, despite strong opposition from Congress.

Back in 2014, the Houthi movement forcibly took over the capital of Yemen, Sana. This caused Saudi Arabia, along with their allies, to begin bombings with the aid of American-made weaponry.

The war has been criticized as being one of the world’s largest humanitarian crises, as plenty of evidence was found that American-made weaponry caused thousands of civilian deaths. Yemen is currently suffering from a famine on top of the war. 

At the time, the Obama administration supported the war after the Iran nuclear deal in 2015, in order to alleviate tensions with Saudi Arabia over the deal. Trump furthered the support of the war for aforementioned reasons. 

President Biden, on the other hand, has a different approach to this crisis. He wants to force Saudi Arabia to take a more diplomatic route to this situation. President Biden put experienced diplomat Timothy Lenderking in charge of dealing with negotiations for a peaceful solution.

Democrats were in agreement over this move to stop the sales. “The weapons we sold to Saudi Arabia and UAE have been used to kill schoolchildren, transferred to extremist militias, and fueled a dangerous arms race in the Middle East,” tweeted Senator Chris Murphy.

However, while President Biden may be forcing Saudi Arabia’s hand in terms of the cost to human lives that has accumulated, he isn’t going to leave them to deal with Iran on their own. Sales of defensive weapons that serve as protection against missiles, cyberattacks, and drones will continue. 

“We’re going to continue to support and help Saudi Arabia defend its sovereignty and its territorial integrity and its people,” said President Biden.

Since taking office, President Biden has made several changes, compared to the previous administration, in tackling foreign issues. How this will turn out remains to be seen.


Photo courtesy of REUTERS.COM