President Donald Trump's administration is set to approve weapons packages for Gulf-area allies Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, according to The Washington Times.
A $300-million precision-guided missile package for Riyadh and an F-16 deal for Bahrain are ready for clearance, one U.S. official told The Times.
President Barack Obama blocked the deals due to concerns about human rights issues in both countries, including civilian casualties in Yemen by a Saudi-led military campaign.
"These are significant sales for key allies in the Gulf who are facing the threat from Iran and who can contribute to the fight against the Islamic State. Whereas the Obama administration held back on these, they're now in the new administration's court for a decision — and I would anticipate the decision will be to move forward," an official told The Times.
Saudis have not had a new supply of smart bombs since the Yemen campaign began two years ago. The U.S. official said, "we're very concerned" about civilian casualties.
"We believe a more accurate partner is a more effective partner and results in fewer casualties. If they're going to drop stuff, it should be precision-guided rather than dumb," the official said.
Saudi's foreign minister is "very, very up" on working with the Trump administration, according to sources close to the Saudi government.
The Center for International Policy's William Hartung said he disagreed with sending the weapons to Saudi Arabia, saying that Obama's block of the deal had sent a "concrete message" that the U.S. would not tolerate attacks on civilians.
"To lift that now, without some indication from the Saudis that they're going to stop doing it, makes no sense," Hartung said in The Times' report.
Other U.S. officials said the Trump administration has already signed off on about $1 billion in sales to Arab allies in the Gulf, including observation balloons for Saudi Arabia and $400 million in air-to-air missiles and helicopter parts for Kuwait.
In January, U.S. sales of weapons to foreign countries reached $47.1 billion, according to Defense News.
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