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US State Department approves $1.15bn Saudi arms sale Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

US State Department approves $1.15bn Saudi arms sale

A US Abrams battle tank in action during a military exercise in South Korea [Getty]

Date of publication: 10 August, 2016

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US Battle tanks, armoured vehicles and other equipment set for sale after State Department gives its approval.

The US State Department has approved a potential sale of military equipment to Saudi Arabia worth around $1.15 billion, the Pentagon said on Tuesday.

Included in the sale are more than 130 Abrams battle tanks, 20 armoured recovery vehicles and various other types of military equipment.

The US body charged with overseeing foreign arms sales, the Defence Security Cooperation Agency, said that the deal would help secure the US by safeguarding an important regional partner.

The agency added that American aerospace and defence company General Dynamic would be the principal contractor if the deal goes through.

Saudi Arabia's military efforts are currently concentrated on the war in Yemen, where the kingdom is leading a coalition conducting aerial operations to support the government of Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi against the Houthi rebels.

In this conflict, Riyadh has been accused of various human rights violations against civilians. Most notably, Saudi Arabia was drawn into a lengthy tussle with the United Nations after the international body added the Saudi-led coalition to a list of children's rights violators for the deaths of hundreds of children in airstrikes.

After pressure from the kingdom and its allies, however, the coalition was removed from the blacklist. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon recently indicated that the coalition will stay off the list.

International rights group have also consistently accused the Saudi-led coalition of blocking access to basic goods from reaching the country which is home to more than 20 million people - half of which live below the poverty line.

The devestating effect of war on Yemen has caused many human rights watchdogs, including Amnesty International and the Campaign Against Arms Trade [CAAT], to call upon Western nations to stop arming the Middle East's richest nation as it continues its aggressive military campaign in the region's poorest country.

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