Among the deals at stake are the proposed sale of 120,000 precision-guided munitions (PGMs) to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) by Raytheon, which has its headquarters in Massachusetts, and is America’s largest manufacturer of such weapons. Raytheon, which according to lobbying watchdog OpenSecrets.org, spent at least $3.3m in 2016 in contributions to the campaigns of politicians from both parties.
Pompeo “overruled concerns from most of the state department specialists involved in the debate who were worried about the rising civilian death toll in Yemen”. It said Mr Pompeo, a former Director of CIA, decided to side with his legislative affairs team that warned of the potential threat to the proposed arms sales.
Among those groups he sided against were his department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labour, and the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration. The US Agency for International Development (USAID) said Washington should halt military aid as continuing it would not help the approach of Saudi Arabia and the UAE “civilian casualties or human protections”.
The US accounted forone-thirdd of all global arms sales, with almost half going to the Middle East. The largest individual buyer of US arms was Saudi Arabia. Meanwhile, since 2015, the UK government had licensed £4.7bn ($6.2bn) worth of arms to Saudi forces. These include aircraft, helicopters, drones, grenades and missiles.
“The Saudi regime has one of the worst human rights records in the world and has waged a terrible war on Yemen. Arms companies have been allowed to rake in billions of dollars, while one of the world’s worst humanitarian catastrophes has been inflicted,” he said. “The war and destruction would not have been possible without the complicity and support of arms dealing governments like those in the US and the UK.” Andrew Smith of the London-based Campaign Against Arms Trade, told The Independent.
Mark Curtis, the historian and author of Secret Affairs: Britain’s Collusion with Radical Islam,said: “This sorry tale tells me that US officials, like their counterparts in the UK, are perfectly aware of the impact that their arms exports policies are having on civilians.” He added: “Tragically, however, political leaders care much more about preserving alliances, and currying favour with foreign elites, than they do actual people. To the US administration, Yemenis are unpeople.”