Leaked report: Western arms are essential to Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen


A leak of classified documents from the French Directorate of Military Intelligence shows that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are extremely dependent on U.S. and European weapons for their war on Yemen. The documents, released by French investigative journalism organization Disclose and translated by the Intercept, reveal that the U.S., France, and the U.K. assist coalition forces with targeting, making these countries complicit in war crimes; that France is aware that their weapons are routinely used in attacking civilians in Yemen; and that Saudi Arabia and U.A.E. are so dependent on NATO weaponry that it would take decades to replace it with Chinese or Russian weapons and to retrain soldiers with the new equipment.

The documents illustrate how crucial U.S. and Western ally support is to the war in Yemen, explained The Real News Network’s Greg Wilpert. If Saudi Arabia were to stop buying arms from the U.S. and its allies they could not easily substitute them with other weapons purchases, which contradicts the argument made by the U.S. and other governments that the war would continue regardless of their involvement.

“There is not a clear path for them to just switch over to Russian manufactured weapons. It’s kind of like switching from Macintosh to Microsoft. It’s just not an easy transition. It takes a lot of time,” Hassan El-Tayyab, co-director of Just Foreign Policy, said. “So again, it kind of deeply involves the United States, and there are bipartisan majorities that want to end this war. And now we have proof just how urgent that is and how much we could impact the situation on the ground for millions of Yemenis that are living on the brink of famine by stopping these arms sales.”

“This secret report that was leaked just increases the urgency for the U.S. Senate to override Trump’s veto and to push to end this illegal war. It’s horrifying to know just how complicit we are in Saudi coalition war crimes in Yemen,” El-Tayyab said, referring to the Senate resolution invoking the 1973 War Powers Act since vetoed by Donald Trump. The resolution would direct Trump to remove U.S. forces from Yemen on the basis that there was no formal declaration of war. The House could override the veto with a two-thirds vote in both House and Senate, El-Tayyab explained.

Even if the veto stands, there are more options available within the U.S. to remove support for the war in Yemen.

“There’s still plenty Congress can do to end the war. I mean, they can vote to defund the war because they have the power of the purse and there is a National Defense Authorization Act vote over the summer. There’s also some standalone bills that would cut off arms sales. McGovern has one in the House that’s pending. So again there’s more vehicles that we can use to cut support for the coalition,” said El-Tayyab. “Some are even talking about legal action. Actually there are some Yemeni activists I know that are talking about filing a joint lawsuit against the Trump administration. And finally there are some even calling for impeachment, because again this is an unconstitutional war under Article 1 Section 8 because it hasn’t been declared by Congress–so this is definitely far from over.”

El-Tayyab also commented on the impact international pressure could have on ending the war.

“France is also under tremendous pressure right now after the release of this report to come clean about their arms exports to Saudi Arabia. Macron is getting pressure from inside this country and even among allies in the EU such as Germany, who has already stopped their arms sales to the Saudi Arabian government. So I just think overall this increases the international community’s awareness and a desire to cut off the coalition and end this war,” he said. “I think whether or not we go all the way really depends on how much pressure the international community can put on the Saudi government.”

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