Biden suspends arms deals with Saudi Arabia

The deals were signed while Trump was in office. However, Biden promised to help Saudi Arabia defend its sovereignty

Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz

The Biden administration has temporarily suspended two large arms deals signed with Saudi Arabia during Trump's time in office for the supply of precision munitions worth $760 million. It is part of a new policy by the administration that is intended to put an end to the violence in Yemen. The Defense News website reported that according to President Biden's comments over the weekend, the door is open to future arms deals with Saudi Arabia considered vital for national defense.     

"We are ending all American support for offensive operations in the war in Yemen," Biden said, "including relevant arms sales." In a speech at the State Department in Washington, he added that Saudi Arabia is threatened by missiles, remote-controlled aircraft and additional threats from forces supported by Iran in several countries. "We’re going to continue to support and help Saudi Arabia defend its sovereignty and its territorial integrity and its people."

There are two deals in question: one for 3,000 (Boeing) GBU-39 small diameter bombs worth $290 million, and another for 7,000 (Raytheon) Paveway 4 smart bombs worth $478 million. The Army Times website noted that the CEO of Raytheon, Greg Hayes, predicted the step by the administration when he said at a meeting of shareholders that the company suspended the sale of offensive weapons systems to a "customer in the Middle East" since it was not certain that the new administration would authorize the deal. There was no comment from the White House spokesperson.         

The Biden administration announced that it is "reviewing" various deals authorized by the Trump administration. The White House spokesperson said that the deals with Saudi Arabia "will return to standard procedures and orders including with appropriate legal reviews at the State Department."

The war in Yemen has caused a humanitarian disaster, according to Human Rights Watch. Since 2015, more than 17,500 citizens were killed or wounded, with women and children accounting for a quarter of them. Over 20 million residents of Yemen suffer from food insecurity, and about 10 million face famine.