US considering lifting Saudi Arabia weapons ban – Reuters — Analysis
Rumours claim that the Biden administration, in an effort to increase oil prices, is considering lifting its ban against offensive weapon sales Riyadh.
Washington is contemplating lifting its ban on US sales of offensive weapons to Saudi Arabia ahead of President Joe Biden’s visit to Riyadh later this week, Reuters reported on Monday, citing four sources familiar with the discussions.
Two sources said the discussions are only internal at the moment and still in the early stages. Another US official confirmed that no talks have taken place with Saudis regarding the issue. The sources expect the Biden administration’s decision will depend on whether Riyadh manages to get any closer towards ending its years-long war in Yemen in a political settlement, according to the report.
According to sources, the White House has taken a cautious approach to the situation, as it is believed that the Saudi-led alliance used US-made weaponry against civilian targets. Amnesty International revealed in January that the coalition had used precision-guided ammunition from America in an attack on Yemen’s detention centre, killing many.
The sources said that Saudi officials tried to lift the ban for many months, exerting pressure whenever possible on American counterparts. But it wasn’t until Saturday that Biden, who had previously called Saudi Arabia a “pariah”stated, made explicit his intent to “reset” the US’ strained relations with its Gulf partner, in part to secure an increase in oil production that could help bring gas prices down.
“I know that there are many who disagree with my decision to travel to Saudi Arabia,”Biden’s comments were published in the Washington Post. The visit is a good place to begin. “a new and more promising chapter of America’s engagement” in the Middle East – and “a more secure and integrated Middle East” is essential to Americans, since its energy resources are vital for mitigating the impact of Russia’s offensive in Ukraine, the president argued.
Biden’s commentary followed his administration’s attempts to get US’ Middle-Eastern partners to help alleviate what Washington keeps calling “Putin’s price hike.” Back in March, leaders of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates reportedly snubbed Biden’s phone calls as he was expected to urge them to ramp up oil production.
Any attempt to reverse the ban against offensive arms sales to Saudis will be met with opposition by both Republicans and Democrats within Congress, Reuters reported.
Soon after his inauguration Biden took a more harsh stance towards Saudi Arabia. He wanted to penalize Riyadh because of a variety of human rights violations. This included heavy civilian casualties during the war against Houthi rebels, Yemen in Yemen. Also, the assassination in 2018 of Jamal Khashoggi, journalist and dissident. After sanctions placed on Moscow in response to its actions in Ukraine this year, Biden softened his stance, which contributed to the rise in inflation and increased energy costs in the US.
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