Advocates see ‘opportunity’ in US review of Saudi arms sales – Al Jazeera English

Nearly two months after the United States announced it would halt “offensive” support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, as well as “relevant” arms sales, the administration of President Joe Biden has offered little clarity on how it will define those parameters.

The move, though short on specifics, was welcomed by US-based advocates, who had long argued that Washington should end its backing of the coalition due to reports of widespread human rights abuses and the conflict’s punishing humanitarian toll on Yemeni civilians.

Activists in other countries that provide arms to Riyadh also took note of the Biden administration’s policy pivot, hoping it could influence their own governments’ respective positions on the war in Yemen and weapons exports to the Saudi government.

But several weeks after Biden’s announcement, advocates outside of the US say little has changed.

“In terms of arms sales, we’ve got six years now of the United Kingdom with shockingly high sales figures, licensing figures and absolutely no indication whatsoever, that that’s going to change,” said Martin Butcher, policy adviser on arms and conflict with Oxfam International.

“And if anything, they’ve taken a somewhat harsh tone in reaction to the Biden initiative.”

Boys look at a destroyed store hit by Saudi-led air strikes in Sanaa, Yemen [File: Khaled Abdullah/Reuters]

Billions in weapons sales

The British government has stressed it has a separate relationship with Riyadh from the US – both longstanding allies of the country – and has maintained it has strict humanitarian criteria for arms