The renewed commitment raises questions, notably since Biden suggested human rights would be pivotal in his foreign policy. Moreover, there is reasonable doubt the recent military deal is based on Saudi Arabia’s security, as it has widely been suggested.
“It is hard to find much of a security rationale for maintaining helicopter gunships. I am unaware of them ever being deployed for defensive purposes. They seem primarily geared towards offensive military operations in other countries. US-supplied and maintained helicopters have attacked Yemini villages, marketplaces, fishing vessels, and fleeing refugees, resulting in thousands of civilian casualties,” Zunes noted.
Along with unconditional military aid to Israel and Egypt, the proposed maintenance deal underscored that the Biden administration’s Joe Biden claim of supporting human rights was merely rhetoric.
The State Department’s rationale reinforces this notion. It stated the military assistance is justified since Saudi Arabia was “a friendly country that continues to be a force for stability in the Middle East”.
“The people of Yemen, Bahrain, Qatar, and other countries would certainly disagree with that. As would colleagues of Jamal Khashoggi and other victims of the Saudi regime,” said Zunes.
Nonetheless, the kingdom has seemingly become cognisant that its reputation has suffered on the world stage, which has forced its hand, Simon Mabon, professor of international politics at Lancaster University, told Al Jazeera.