The administration of US President Donald trump has come under fire from human rights advocacy groups for striking a massive weapons deal with Saudi Arabia without considering the Riyadh regime’s rights record.
During his first overseas trip over the weekend, Trump made a stop in Riyadh, where he signed the controversial deal and a number of other major agreements with the Saudi monarch.
The $110 billion arms deal signed by Saudi King Salman and Trump on Saturday was a component of $350 billion in economic and military investments between the two countries over the next 10 years, according to US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
“This deal has President Trump throwing gasoline on a house fire and locking the door on his way out,” said Eric Ferrero, communications director of Amnesty International USA.
Brokered by Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, the deal includes tanks, artillery, armored personnel carriers, and helicopters as well as warships, patrol boats, and associated weapons systems.
Advanced missile systems like the Patriot and the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system, which was recently deployed in South Korea, were also part of the deal, according to reports.
Saudi Arabia has been pounding Yemen for over two years and killing thousands of civilians there, while receiving full logistic and intelligence support from America.
Turning a blind eye to the unprovoked war that has killed thousands of Yemeni civilians, the Trump administration even included Yemen in a Muslim ban that barred citizens of several Muslim countries from entering the US.
Ferrero said in his statement that Yemen’s inclusion in the ban was “unconscionable.” He also cited “damning evidence” that Saudis had committed war crimes in the impoverished country.
The New York-based Human Rights Watch accused the Trump team of rewarding Saudi war crimes with the new deal.
It also accused Washington of committing war crimes in Yemen, citing documents about at least 81 US drone strikes across the country.
While Trump argues that the deal is necessary to curb the terror threat in the region, activists argue that he just wants to boost US manufacturing businesses and create more jobs at home.
The world is “watching as President Trump meets with leaders of other states with records of trampling on human rights in the name of national security,” Margaret Huang, Amnesty’s executive director in the USA, said. “We fear this ‘new partnership’ could lay the foundation for further erosion of human rights in the region and far beyond.”
Besides their intervention in Yemen, the US and Saudi Arabia, along with a number of their regional allies, stand accused of providing weapons and funding various militant groups wreaking havoc in countries like Syria and Iraq.