Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile system. (Photo credit: US Army/Jason Cutshaw)
The government of US President Joe Biden approved and notified congress of possible multibillion-dollar weapons sales to both Saudi Arabia and the UAE on 2 August.
Totaling as much as $5.3 billion, the two separate deals call for Washington to sell Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile interceptors to Abu Dhabi, and to resupply Riyadh with Patriot missile interceptors.
According to the US State Department, the multibillion weapons sales “will support the foreign policy goals and national security objectives of the United States.”
The White House’s approval came on the same day the UN announced a two-month extension of a brittle truce between Yemen’s Ansarallah resistance movement and the Saudi-led coalition.
Since taking office last year, Biden promised to curtail weapons sales to the kingdom, and to end its support for their offensive operations in Yemen.
The Saudi-led war in Yemen has killed 377,000 people and left nearly half the country’s population on the verge of famine due to an illegal naval blockade.
Just last month, western media revealed that the White House has been in discussions to lift a ban on sales of offensive weapons to Saudi Arabia.
Despite only being allowed to purchase “defensive weapons,” the kingdom remains the biggest recipient of Washington’s arsenal, accounting for 23 percent of US arms exports between 2017 and 2021.
US weapons exports to Saudi Arabia increased by over 100 percent since the invasion of Yemen in 2015. The UAE, which is a leading member of the Saudi-led coalition, was the eighth largest recipient of US weapons during the same period.
This latest multi-billion dollar weapons deal comes just weeks after Biden visited Saudi Arabia and failed to convince his Arab partners to increase oil output.
Biden hoped to reach an oil production deal to lower gasoline prices in the US, as inflation hit a 40-year high last month, plunging his approval ratings to new lows.