According to CNN, Saudi Arabia and its key ally in the Yemen war, United Arab Emirates (UAE), use US military equipment as “currency” to gain loyalty and strengthen selected military groups in the country, and to influence the country’s comprehensive political landscape.
Shipments made in the US are in contradiction with the US-Saudi agreement, which prohibits their surrender to a third party. The US Department of Defense has stated that it has been thoroughly investigating the issue.
CNN points out that it is a worrying affair for the US because military equipment occasionally ends in the hands of Shiite rebels and hence also in the hands of Iran, who is their main supporter and military ally. Iran, considered by the current Trump Administration as a key US adversary in the Middle East, can gain a unique insight into the secrets of the US arms industry and use it to make its own more effective weapons, CNN points out.
US military equipment to end in al Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), considered to be the most dangerous offensive of the infamous terrorist organization.
One such militia is, for example, the Abu Abbas Brigade, which has military vehicles available to American company Oshkosh Corporation. Abu Abbas was declared a terrorist in 2017, but the group was incorporated into the 35 Yemen Army brigade, supported by Saudi Arabia.
Similarly, the ultra-conservative Sunni military group Alwiyat al Amalqa (the Brigade of Giants) has military vehicles produced by the US company Navistar. The senior official of the UAE told CNN that the brigade was part of the Yemeni forces under the direct control of the UAE. Military equipment is “in a collective coalition holding,” meaning there is no violation of the Saudi Arabia and UAE agreement with the US on military sales.
Recipients of US arms are legally obliged to comply with end-use requirements that prohibit the transfer of any equipment to a third party without the prior consent of the US government. According to the US Department of Defense, neither Saudi Arabia nor the UAE was granted such a permit.
The commitment of Saudi Arabia and the UAE to the “biggest humanitarian disaster”, as the war in Yemen is called, has long been criticized by the US lawmakers across the political spectrum. The demand to prevent the supply of weapons to Saudi Arabia began to sound particularly strong after the murder of Saudi anti-regime journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Saudi Arabia, however, has stood at US President Donald Trump, who considers military deals between the two countries to be crucial to the US economy and reluctant to withdraw from them. However, in November 2018, Trump’s administration terminated the tank support of the Saudi Arabian Coalition Air Force.