Amnesty International accuses UAE of diverting arms to "militias" in Yemen

Leroy Wright
February 9, 2019

A new report by CNN finds that Saudi Arabia gave U.S. -made weapons to al-Qaeda-linked fighters and other militant factions in Yemen, in violation of a U.S. -Saudi arms deal.

In a story February 6 about Western arms supplied to the Yemen war, The Associated Press incorrectly cited Amnesty International researcher Patrick Wilcken as saying that American and British weapons had ended up in the hands of the Islamic State group and al-Qaida.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), its main partner in the war, have used the US-manufactured weapons as a form of currency to buy the loyalties of militias or tribes, bolster chosen armed actors, and influence the complex political landscape, according to local commanders on the ground and analysts who spoke to CNN.

The chairman of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee said on Wednesday he was troubled by a report that Saudi Arabia transferred weapons to extremist groups in Yemen and questioned whether Congress should consider more restrictions on weapons sales to the Saudi-led coalition.

An open source investigation published by Amnesty International today highlights a growing danger in Yemen's conflict as the United Arab Emirates (UAE) recklessly arms militias with a range of advanced weaponry.

The weapons - including anti-tank missiles, armored vehicles, heat-seeking lasers and artillery - have been passed on, sold, stolen or abandoned in Yemen.

During his maiden state visit, US President Donald Trump went to Saudi Arabia where he signed a massive $110 billion arms deal with the oil-rich kingdom.

The Department of Defense asserts that Saudi is breaking the terms of its arms sales with the USA by handing off military equipment to third parties.

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"We are aware of these reports and seeking additional information", a department official told the Reuters news agency, adding that all such reports are taken seriously.

President Donald Trump's administration opposed numerous bills, calling the Saudis important regional partners and praising weapons sales as an important source of U.S.jobs.

A Saudi-led coalition has been conducting strikes against the Houthis at Hadi's request since March 2015.

None of those bills became law, but Engel said the committee would continue to press for a response to casualties in Yemen, Khashoggi's killing and the imprisonment of women's rights activities.

Representative Michael McCaul, the panel's top Republican, called Khashoggi's murder "a major setback" in the U.S. -Saudi relationship and deplored civilian casualties in Yemen. He said, "It can no longer be business as usual".

The Senate approved the measure in November over the Trump administration's objections.

The US military provides intelligence and logistics support to Saudi forces, and up until recently, it was also assisting with mid-air refuelling of Saudi jets. The then-Republican controlled House blocked a vote on a Yemen-related resolution.

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