News Release

Obama: $50 Billion to Saudi in Weaponry

20Hartung-INYT-articleLargeSHEILA CARAPICO, scarapic at, @SCarapico
Carapico is a professor of political science and international studies at the University of Richmond in Virginia who follows Saudi Arabia closely. Her pieces include “A Call to Resist Saudi (and U.S.) Aggression in Yemen,” for The Nation, and “Romancing the Throne,” for MERIP in 2014, about Obama’s prior trip to Saudi Arabia.

ALI AL-AHMED, alialahmedx at, @AliAlAhmed_en
Ahmed is director of the Institute for Gulf Affairs and recently wrote the piece “Saudi Arabia Is a Burden, Not a Friend to the U.S.,” for the New York Times.

WILLIAM HARTUNG, williamhartung55 at, @williamhartung
Hartung is the director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy and a senior adviser to the Security Assistance Monitor.

The New York Times just published his piece “Obama Shouldn’t Trade Cluster Bombs for Saudi Arabia’s Friendship,” which states: “He should avoid doing what he did at Camp David last May, the last time he met with [the Gulf Cooperation Council]: promise more arms sales. Since Mr. Obama hosted that meeting, the United States has offered over $33 billion in weaponry to its Persian Gulf allies, with the bulk of it going to Saudi Arabia. The results have been deadly.

“The Saudi-American arms deals are a continuation of a booming business that has developed between Washington and Riyadh during the Obama years. In the first six years of the Obama administration, the United States entered into agreements to transfer nearly $50 billion in weaponry to Saudi Arabia, with tens of billions of dollars of additional offers in the pipeline. …

“Human Rights Watch has reported that two Saudi strikes on a market in the Yemeni village of Mastaba in mid-March killed at least 97 civilians, including 25 children. This was just one in a series of Saudi strikes on marketplaces, hospitals and other civilian targets, attacks that Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have said may constitute war crimes. …

“Senator Chris Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut, and Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, have introduced legislation that would stop transfers of air-to-ground munitions to Saudi Arabia until the kingdom focuses its efforts in Yemen on attacking terrorist organizations and takes ‘all feasible precautions to reduce the risk of harm to civilians and civilian infrastructure.’ This is a good start.”