Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Raytheon AIM-120

A United States Air Force F-16 fighter jet test-fires a Raytheon AIM-120 air-to-air missile over the Gulf of Mexico near Eglin Air Force Base in Okaloosa County, Florida. (Photo: Capt. Justin Marsh/USAF)

Warnings of 'More Death and Suffering' in Yemen as US Moves to Sell Saudis Missiles

The Biden administration called the proposed sale of $650 million in air-to-air missiles "fully consistent" with its efforts to end the war that's killed, wounded, displaced, and starved millions of Yemenis.

Brett Wilkins

Anti-war activists on Thursday accused the Biden administration of throwing fuel on the flames of the Saudi-led war in Yemen after the U.S. State Department notified Congress it approved a new $650 million missile sale to the repressive Middle Eastern monarchy.

Defense News reports the Pentagon said the Saudi government requested to purchase 280 AIM-120C-7/C-8 advanced medium-range air-to-air missiles and 596 LAU-128 missile rail launchers in a deal that would also include spare parts, support, and logistical services. The missiles would be fitted to Saudi warplanes including Eurofighter Typhoons and McDonnell-Douglas F-15s.

"Meanwhile," tweeted the women-led peace group CodePink, "one Yemeni child continues to die every 10 minutes as a result of the humanitarian crisis caused by the Saudi-led war on Yemen."

The missiles are made by Raytheon, whose board Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin joined upon retiring as head of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) in 2016.

A State Department spokesperson called the proposed sale "fully consistent with the administration's pledge to lead with diplomacy to end the conflict in Yemen while also ensuring Saudi Arabia has the means to defend itself from Iranian-backed Houthi air attacks."

Peace advocates scoffed at the claim that selling more weapons to the Saudis would help bring about peace.

Unless blocked by Congress, the sale would be the first to Saudi Arabia since President Joe Biden's February announcement that the U.S. was ending support for "offensive operations"—including weapons transfers—in the atrocity-laden Saudi-led war that has killed and wounded hundreds of thousands of Yemenis, while displacing hundreds of thousands more and exacerbating famine-like conditions through a crippling economic blockade.

Prior to February's announcement, the Biden administration imposed a temporary freeze on all arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates pending a review of deals inked during the tenure of former President Donald Trump.

Critics say the new sale is at least the third violation of Biden's "offensive operations" promise this fall. In May, Pentagon officials acknowledged the U.S. was still servicing Saudi warplanes via contractors, and in September, peace and human advocates denounced the State Department's approval of a $500 million contract to maintain the kingdom's military helicopters.

In late September, the U.S. House passed an amendment by Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) to the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that, if approved by the Senate and signed by Biden, would end U.S. logistical support and weapons transfers to Saudi Arabia.

This post has been updated to clarify that Congress does not need to approve weapons sales but can block them.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Biden Urged to Sign Executive Order Guaranteeing Rail Workers Paid Sick Leave

After the president brokered a compulsory contract without a single paid day off for illness, one labor advocate implored him to "put up or shut up about how you really want them to have sick leave!"

Brett Wilkins ·


Campaigners Demand Deep Cuts to Plastic Production as Global Treaty Negotiations Ramp Up

"The scale of the problem is mind-boggling," said one advocate. "Plastic is in our blood. It's in fetuses. It's really encroaching on every aspect of human existence."

Julia Conley ·


Putting 'Profits Over People', Senate Rejects Paid Sick Leave for Rail Workers

"Senate Republicans and Joe Manchin have yet AGAIN failed working Americans by voting down seven days of paid sick leave for rail workers," lamented Rep. Jamaal Bowman.

Brett Wilkins ·


'We Must Cancel Student Debt,' Activists Argue as SCOTUS Agrees to Hear Case in February

"The right-tilted Supreme Court now holds in the balance relief for millions of hardworking Americans," said one campaigner. "It would be a giant loss for the economy if justices rule in favor of the special interests."

Jessica Corbett ·


A Labor Revolt Is Brewing... Inside the National Labor Relations Board

"From Congress, we demand funds, not furloughs," says the NLRB union. "From NLRB General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo, we demand collaboration, not coercion."

Kenny Stancil ·

Common Dreams Logo