The war in Yemen is America’s war. Saudi Arabia has spent a fortune buying arms from America to prosecute a war that has killed almost a quarter of a million people — the world’s worst humanitarian catastrophe in our lifetime. Two American administrations have enabled the war. It’s long past time to stop.
According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, the preeminent think tank tracking arms sales, Saudi Arabia was the world’s largest arms importer from 2015 to 2019, the first five years of the Yemen war. Its imports of major arms increased by 130% compared with the previous five-year period. Despite the wide-ranging concerns in the U.S. and the United Kingdom about Saudi Arabia’s military intervention in Yemen, both Washington and London continued to export arms to Saudi Arabia from 2015 to 2019. A total of 73% of Saudi Arabia’s arms imports came from the U.S., and 13% from the U.K.
In the five years before the war, U.S. arms transfers to Saudi Arabia amounted to $3 billion; between 2015 and 2020, the U.S. agreed to sell over $64.1 billion worth of weapons to Riyadh, averaging $10.7 billion per year. Sales to other belligerents in the war, like the United Arab Emirates (UAE), also rose exponentially.