The United States has announced an end to the Saudi-led offensive operations in Yemen, citing how the bombing campaign has led to the world's worst humanitarian crisis.
The announcement came during a visit of Joe Biden to the State Department on Thursday, one of the multiple drastic foreign policy shifts made since his January 20th inauguration.
US Government Freezes Weapons Sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE
“This war has to end,” Biden said. “And to underscore our commitment, we’re ending all American support for offensive operations in the war in Yemen, including relevant arms sales.”
Although the break with Saudi Arabia is one of the more conspicuous distancings of Biden's administration from former president Donald Trump's, it also marks a break with Barack Obama's, who also backed the Saudi offensive in Yemen.
While the U.S. Congress previously voted to cut off support to the Saudi campaign, citing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi's assassination, Trump used his veto to block the move.
The U.S. will freeze arms sales to Saudi Arabia and name a special envoy to Yemen to place more pressure on the Saudis, Emiratis, and the Houthi forces they are fighting to achieve a lasting peace agreement.
Before the speech, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said: “We have spoken with both senior officials in the UAE and senior officials in Saudi Arabia. We are pursuing a policy of no surprises when it comes to these types of actions.”
While former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo treated Saudi Arabia as its key ally in its campaign to cripple Iran through economic sanctions and sidestepped Congress by maintaining the flow of arms to the Gulf, Biden's Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke bluntly about Saudi culpability in the war on Yemen.
The U.S. decision now puts pressure on the United Kingdom, which has numerous products, such as the Paveway bomb, widely used by Saudi Arabia, linked to U.S. arms contracts. Evidence given to the British arms control select committee this week shows that U.S. arms manufacturer Raytheon has already removed some future orders from its books.
According to a spokesperson for the Campaign Against the Arms Trade, the move is a “long overdue step towards ending the catastrophic and brutal war in Yemen."