The U.S. State Department has told Congress that it will issue a license for the sale of 75,000 bombs and precision-guided air-to-surface munitions worth $478 million to Saudi Arabia.
Bloomberg reported this on Wednesday. Raytheon Technologies Corp. may sell the weapons directly to the Saudi government after receiving the license, which is expected to be issued before Joe Biden takes office on Jan. 20, according to the report.
Details of the proposed sale were shared informally with lawmakers in January. Democrats, however, opposed it.
U.S. President-elect Joe Biden has promised to review U.S. relations with Saudi Arabia. If you move forward with the arms sale now, it will be substantially completed by the time Biden takes office.
Some U.S. lawmakers and human rights groups have criticized Saudi Arabia’s use of U.S. weapons against civilians in Yemen. A conflict that the United Nations has called the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.U.S. President Donald Trump rejected those concerns and criticisms, saying the Saudis would buy weapons from other countries if they did not buy U.S. weapons.
Since March 26, 2015, Saudi Arabia, along with the United Arab Emirates UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Egypt and Sudan, had launched attacks on Yemen and imposed a naval, air and ground blockade on that country in an attempt to return the ousted Yemeni President Abed Rabbo MAnsur Handi to power.
The outgoing administration of U.S. President Donald Trump will send top adviser Jared Kushner to Saudi Arabia and Qatar this week to advance normalization agreements with Arab states.
Jared Kushner and his team have helped negotiate deals between Israel and Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Sudan since August.
A senior administration official said he would like to push for more such agreements before President Donald Trump hands power to President-elect Joe Biden on Jan. 20.
Kushner, also Trump’s son-in-law, is expected to meet with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Qatar’s emir “in the coming days” at the head of an American delegation.
U.S. officials believe enticing Saudi Arabia into an agreement with Israel would prompt other Arab nations to follow suit.
Earlier this month, Israeli media reported that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu secretly visited Saudi Arabia for a meeting in the northwestern city of Neom that included U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the head of Israel’s spy agency, Mossad. According to Saudi sources cited by Reuters, King Salman was not informed of the visit to the kingdom, where the Israeli prime minister met his son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The Palestinians have condemned the normalization push, calling it a betrayal of their cause of confronting Israeli occupation and aggression.
Even before normalization, Trump’s administration recognized the occupied holy city of al-Quds (Jerusalem) as Israel’s “capital” and promised support to Tel Aviv in annexing Palestinian land on which hundreds of illegal settlements have been built.
On Saturday, Jordan’s King Abdullah met with Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas at Jordan’s Red Sea port in Aqaba. The monarch stressed that Amman “stands by the Palestinians with all its resources until they achieve their legitimate right to establish an independent state.”
Abdullah said he considers Trump’s “deal of the century” as well as Israel’s aggressive policies as a measure to exacerbate existing tensions.
Under the U.S. plan, Tel Aviv will be allowed to annex about 30 percent of the occupied West Bank and Jordan Valley.
According to observers, a possible annexation of territory on such a scale threatens to trigger a wave of refugees to Jordan, where many Palestinians already live.
Israeli media reported that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday during a secret visit to Saudi Arabia.
Israel’s Kan Public Radio and Army Radio reported Monday that Netanyahu made a secret visit to the Saudi Arabian city of Neom, where bin Salman and Pompeo had a scheduled meeting.
Netanyahu was reportedly accompanied during the visit by the head of Israel’s Mossad spy service, Yossi Cohen.
Avi Scharf of the Israeli newspaper Haaretz published information indicating that a business jet made a short trip from Tel Aviv to Neom.Israeli Education Minister Yoav Gallant confirmed the media reports Monday, saying, “The fact that the meeting took place and became public knowledge, even if it is only semi-official at the moment, is of great importance.”
U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo has been trying to persuade Riyadh to follow the lead of other Persian Gulf Arab countries in normalizing relations with the Israeli regime.
The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain signed the controversial agreements to normalize relations with Israel at the White House on September 15. The normalization agreements were condemned by all Palestinian factions as a betrayal of their cause.
Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, the Saudi foreign minister, said Saturday that Riyadh supports full normalization of relations with Israel, but first a permanent and complete peace agreement should be agreed upon to guarantee the Palestinians their state with dignity.
The Mossad chief said last month he believed Saudi Arabia would normalize relations with Israel, but only after the U.S. elections.
by Jeremy Abbott – American Correspondent / WN