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To End 'Blank Check' for Saudi-UAE Assault on Yemen, Coalition Demands Biden Permanently Cancel $37 Billion in Arms Sales

"Permanently canceling these transfers is an essential step toward ending the cycle of impunity that U.S. policy has helped create."

Demonstrators gather outside BBC Broadcasting House for a march through central London in a protest against the Saudi-led assault on Yemen on July 12, 2020 in London. (Photo: WIktor Szymanowicz/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

A coalition of more than 80 anti-war advocacy groups and experts is calling on President Joe Biden to solidify his commitment to ending U.S. support for the devastating, years-long assault on Yemen by permanently canceling dozens of Trump era arms sales—worth a combined $36.5 billion—to the murderous Saudi regime and the United Arab Emirates.

"Any return to business as usual when it comes to the U.S. relationship with these two countries will be woefully insufficient to meet your own campaign promises or the needs of the Yemeni people at this moment."
—Letter

While applauding Biden's announcement last week of his plan to end U.S. support for the Saudi-led coalition's "offensive operations" in Yemen, the anti-war coalition argued in a letter (pdf) to the president Thursday that "curtailing U.S. military support for Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) should not be limited to arbitrary definitions of what equipment and services are 'offensive' or 'defensive,' but instead should be guided by these countries' past behavior as required by U.S. and international law."

"These monarchies have committed and continue to commit human rights violations, not only domestically—where hundreds of human rights defenders, journalists, academics, and artists languish in jail—but also throughout the region in Yemen, Libya, and beyond," reads the letter, signed by Win Without War, CodePink, Amnesty International USA, Justice Democrats, the Yemen Alliance Committee, and dozens of other organizations.

Late last month, Biden paused several weapons sales approved under the Trump administration, including a massive sale of F-35 fighter jets to UAE that the former president pushed through during his final weeks in the White House. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the Biden team is reviewing the pending sales to "make sure that what is being considered is something that advances our strategic objectives and advances our foreign policy."

In their letter on Thursday, the anti-war groups and experts identified a total of 28 weapons transfers to Saudi Arabia and UAE dating back to May of 2017 that the Biden administration can and should scrap in the interest of protecting Yemeni civilians—the victims of the worst humanitarian catastrophe in the world—and moving toward a lasting diplomatic solution to the conflict.

"Permanently canceling these transfers is an essential step toward ending the cycle of impunity that U.S. policy has helped create," the groups wrote, "but it does not on its own constitute peace, healing, or justice for the Yemenis—as well as countless other civilians throughout the region—who have long suffered, in significant part as a result of a virtual blank check of U.S. military support for these countries."

"Any return to business as usual when it comes to the U.S. relationship with these two countries," the coalition added, "will be woefully insufficient to meet your own campaign promises or the needs of the Yemeni people at this moment."

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