Originally appeared on The American Conservative.
A forthcoming documentary accuses the Saudi and Emirati governments of passing weapons purchased from the U.S., Britain, and other Western governments to militias in Yemen in violation of the agreements governing those sales:
An investigation into weapons being used in the war in Yemen has shown numerous examples of arms supplied by the UK and the US, among others, ending up in the hands of militias including those linked to al-Qaida and Isis.
In an apparent abuse of trade agreements by the Saudi- and UAE-led coalition, sophisticated armoured vehicles, rocket launchers, grenades and rifles are among the weapons being purchased from European and US companies and reaching local factions and groups.
As international concerns continue to rise over the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, the report by journalist Mohamed Abo-Elgheit and the Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalists (Arij) alleges that not only are weapons being openly passed to militias aligned to the Saudi coalition but also to marginalised and feuding groups fighting their own territorial battles.
Here is one more reason why the US and other Western governments should get out of the business of selling arms to the Saudis and Emiratis. Not only are coalition forces using the weapons that our government sells to them to commit war crimes, but they are passing them along to their proxies and even to groups aligned with terrorists. Since the Saudi coalition and its proxies have also been buying off and recruiting members of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), it isn’t surprising that they’re also providing jihadists with weapons sold by the US and others, but it is more proof that these governments are not the counter-terrorist security partners that war supporters always claim them to be.
The Saudis and Emiratis have apparently been allowed to get away with this practice for years:
“Where we found abuse of the end user certification system, we sought explanations from the arms companies and government who authorised the sales to the coalition. Many simply turn a blind eye,” said Abo-Elgheit.
The documentary accuses the Saudi coalition, weapons suppliers and governments of a sustained breach of “end user” certification laws stretching back to the beginning of the conflict in 2015. In 2016 UN Security Council issued a warning over “lax accountability” on the part of the coalition, and expressed concern that weapons may be diverted to the black market.
No penalties have ever been levied for breaches. Certificates are meant to provide an assurance to those selling arms, or authorising their sale, that weapons will be used only by the buyer, and not passed or sold on.
Abo-Elgheit and his team compiled evidence that calls into question the credibility of such certificates signed by Saudi Arabia and UAE.
The Saudis and Emiratis have proven that they can’t be trusted to use U.S.-made weapons responsibly, and they can’t even be trusted to keep U.S.-made weapons from militias in Yemen that should never have been able to obtain them. While administration officials hyperventilate about alleged Iranian weapons shipments into Yemen, U.S.-made weapons have been reaching the allies of AQAP and ISIS.
Daniel Larison is a senior editor at The American Conservative, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and is a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Dallas. Follow him on Twitter. This article is reprinted from The American Conservative with permission.