'More war crimes to come': Biden exploits extending Yemen's truce to sell missiles to Saudi Arabia, UAE
Biden is accused of abusing Yemen's extended truce, which he allegedly backed, to approve arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
Minutes after the United Nations announced on August 2, 2022, that Yemen's warring parties agreed to extend the truce for another two months, US President Joe Biden's administration approved the selling of THAAD and Patriot missiles to countries of aggression on Yemen, notably to Saudi Arabia, and UAE in two deals valued up to worth more than $5 billion.
The US State Department issued a statement welcoming the "announcement by the UN on the extension of the truce in Yemen", claiming that "this truce has brought respite from conflict to millions of Yemenis and saved thousands of lives".
At the same time, the State Department issued another statement approving the two massive arms sales deals to Saudi Arabia and UAE whom the United Nations investigators in a 2018 report said their airstrikes against Yemen caused the most civilian casualties and had hit residential areas, markets, funerals, weddings, jails, boats, and medical facilities.
Daniel Kovalik, a professor of International Human Rights at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law said the "Biden administration never had any intention to stop aiding the war efforts against Yemen."
"This is so because, since the war’s inception in 2015, this has been a US war as much as a Saudi-UAE war", Kovalik told Al Mayadeen English. "However, Biden knows that this was not popular with the Democratic base".
The two arms sales include $3.25 billion for Patriot missiles for Saudi Arabia and $2.2 billion for high-altitude missiles for the UAE.
The State Department in its notice informing Congress of the sale said “The proposed sale will improve the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s capability to meet current and future threats by replenishing its dwindling stock of PATRIOT GEM-T missiles".
“These missiles are used to defend the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s borders against persistent Houthi cross-border unmanned aerial system and ballistic missile attacks on civilian sites and critical infrastructure in Saudi Arabia”, the department added.
"He [Biden/his administration] has used pretexts and subterfuges to justify continued support of the war. The truce, which is constantly violated, has been one such pretext", said Kovalik.
"Biden has also claimed that he is only giving Saudi Arabia and the UAE defensive weapons when there really isn’t such a thing in reality", noted Kovalik.
Biden abused the truce by selling arms
Biden also issued a statement on August 2 -published on the White House website- welcoming the extension of the truce in Yemen and claiming it "has brought a period of unprecedented calm in Yemen, saving thousands of lives and bringing tangible relief for countless Yemenis".
"Extending the truce in Yemen and reaching an ultimate resolution to the conflict was also a main topic of discussion during my recent visit to Saudi Arabia", his statement read, but some activists say Biden discussed how to approve the arms sales during the extension of the truce and that it is for this reason he wanted the extension.
"Biden's [support of] truce extension is simply window dressing. It is clear by his behavior in simultaneously approving the selling of arms to the Saudis, whom his administration calls 'a (USA) partner country that is a force for political stability and economic progress in the Gulf region', that his intentions toward the people of Yemen are not friendly," US activist, Pamela Bennet, told Al Mayadeen English.
The State Department said of the sale "This proposed sale will support the foreign policy goals and national security objectives of the United States by improving the security of a partner country that is a force for political stability and economic progress in the Gulf region".
Bennet believes that Biden's support for the extension of the truce is for the sake of approving the arms sales deals with less criticism for him as a man who promised to end the war in Yemen.
Biden also said in his statement "it is now critical that all parties uphold their commitments under the UN-brokered truce and work towards peace".
However, Bennet wondered how peace can be achieved as a "goal" while Biden "sells arms", adding "it makes no sense unless war is the desired outcome".
"The side that he chooses to sell arms to is the Saudis. This exposes that the President of the United States, is totally without integrity and will do and say whatever the big shadow economic interest groups tell him to...", Bennet told Al Mayadeen English.
Dave DeCamp, news editor of Antiwar.com said that President Biden's administration, by approving these new arms sales, showed itself as "not serious about ending the war".
"The fact that the Biden administration approved new arms sales for Saudi Arabia and the UAE, as the fragile truce in Yemen was extended, shows that President Biden is not serious about ending the war", said DeCamp.
"If he were, the US could cut off all military support for the Saudi-led coalition, which would force Riyadh to come to the table of negotiations and make real concessions", DeCamp told Al Mayadeen English.
"Instead, we see the new weapons sales and the Saudis not living up to their end of the truce by not fully lifting the blockade", added DeCamp.
Role of Congress
Bennet believes that "the best way to end the illegal and criminal war upon the sovereign nation of Yemen is to expose the special interests like big banks, and big oil".
She also agreed that the two arms sales deals show the US is preparing for a new chapter of war in Yemen rather than ending its unauthorized involvement in the Yemen war as some senators claim, they seek to do through invoking the War Powers Resolution.
"And it also shows that the atrocities committed seem to have had no effect on slowing down the brutal greed that is at the heart of the war on the sovereign people of Yemen", Bennet told Al Mayadeen English in an email interview.
It is not clear yet what role Congress can play with the two arms deals as the approval was referred to Congress by the State Department.
In an apparent cover-up for the two arms sales deals, some senators during Biden's visit to Saudi Arabia introduced a joint resolution to direct the removal of U.S. Armed Forces from unauthorized involvement in the war between the Saudi-UAE-led coalition and Ansarullah in Yemen.
"The resolution, which is supported by a bipartisan group of more than 100 members of Congress in the House, is considered privileged in the Senate and can receive a vote on the floor as soon as ten calendar days following introduction", said Bernie Sanders on his website on July 14.
There have been fears that Sanders's position on this latest arms sales is going to be like Chris Murphy who partnered with Sanders in 2018 to invoke the War Powers Resolution to end U.S. involvement in the Saudi aggression against Yemen, but in December 2021 Murphy voted to support $650 million sale of air-to-air missiles to Saudi Arabia and argued "it is for 'defensive weapons' against Yemen’s Houthi", a claim used by the State Department in informing the Congress this week of the new arms sales.
"Over time, I have come to believe that the U.S. Congress is a show and a kind of theater", said Bennet. "They pick one or two representatives to play a role of pretending that peace is the goal, but in the end, they vote for war, as planned all along and as they are told by the big interest groups that pay their campaign donations".
Bennet estimated that "almost 97% of politicians are compromised in the United States. One or two, here and there are not".
"Therefore, it is foolish to expect help from Congress. The best defense is more journalism and getting the word out wherever possible", said Bennet.
"In short, it’s business as usual. Biden will continue supporting this war which his former boss, Barack Obama, began, and Congress will continue to oblige", said Kovalik, the professor of International Human Rights, to Al Mayadeen English.