CAAT welcomes reports that US has frozen arms sales to Saudi Arabia and UAE

  • ​Wall Street Journal and others reporting US has frozen pending arms sales to Saudi and UAE
  • US-made weapons have played a key role in the bombing of Yemen, which has created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis
  • US is by far the largest provider of arms to Saudi Arabian forces. UK is second largest seller.


Campaign Against Arms Trade has welcomed reports that the Biden administration has frozen pending arms sales to Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates. Reports suggest that the pending sales which will be reviewed include the sale of bombs to Saudi Arabia and a fighter jet sale to UAE. Throughout his Presidential campaign, Biden repeatedly promised to end arms sales and military support for the Saudi-led bombing of Yemen.


In 2019, in a submission to the Council on Foreign Relations, Biden wrote I would end U.S. support for the disastrous Saudi-led war in Yemen and order a reassessment of our relationship with Saudi Arabia… President Trump has issued Saudi Arabia a dangerous blank check. Saudi Arabia has used it to extend a war in Yemen that has created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, pursue reckless foreign policy fights, and repress its own people.”


The US is the world’s largest arms exporter, with US sales accounting for around one third of the world’s total arms trade. It is hard to get an exact number, but the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute estimates that US-made arms have accounted for almost three quarters of the volume of all arms sales to Saudi Arabia from 2015-2019.


The UK is also a major contributor to the war, with at least £5.4 billion worth of arms sales to Saudi forces since the war began. This total does not include weapons sold using the opaque open licence system, so is a very conservative estimate. CAAT estimates that the real total value could be three times higher. These arms sales are the subject of an ongoing legal challenge by CAAT.


Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade said: “The Saudi-led bombing of Yemen would not be possible without the arms sales and support of the White HouseJoe Biden has repeatedly promised to end that support, so, if these reports are true, it is definitely an encouraging sign. We hope that this freeze will see these arms sales cancelled and ongoing licences revoked.


This terrible war has endured for six years. If Biden sticks to his word and ends the arms sales it could be a huge step towards ending the brutal bombardment and blockade. It would also set a vital precedent and could help to force action from the UK and the other arms dealing governments that have willingly ignored the destruction and enabled the humanitarian crisis.


If the US government, the biggest arms dealer in the world, is prepared to take a stand, then it is long past time for Boris Johnson and his colleagues to do the same and to end their complicity in the crisis.

CAAT would not exist without its supporters. Each new supporter helps us strengthen our call for an end to the international arms trade.

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