ART BY HAZUKI TONOMURA
With America’s advanced military technology, no one would guess that the very weapons meant to protect Americans would end up being their biggest threat of all.
Due to the rise of the Yemen civil war in 2015, media reporters have indicated that U.S. weapons are being illegally distributed by none other than the United States’ number one buyers, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The cause? Simply, Saudi and UAE governments are using such weapons to buy the “loyalties” of UAE-backed militia factions in Yemen. Worst of all, the sale of weapons has trickled down into the hands of the Houthi rebels who are sponsored by Iran, a country currently under the scrutiny of the U.S. government.
Consequently, it has led to Tehran obtaining sensitive U.S. military technology that threatens millions of American lives.
As U.S. weapons can be found on both sides of the battle, not only does the exchange of arms initiate more violence in opposing factions, but it also brings up the question of whether it is worth it to sell out a whole nation’s safety for profit.
Whether it directly affects the war or not, the U.S. still leaves its mark by supporting the operations of arms sales and acts of violence. Ultimately, it might be time for the U.S. to consider stepping down the administration’s support for the Saudi coalition that relies on American weapons for war.
The U.S. possesses the largest and most advanced military on the globe. As American forces continue to combat terror in the east, weapon manufacturers inadvertently gain substantial sums of money. Since 2009, the U.S. has received 350 billion dollars in revenue from its dealings with Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Consequently, these sales have become integral for continued economic growth and the President has no intention in stopping the sale. Most notably, in July 2019, the U.S. Senate vote failed to overcome President Donald Trump’s vetoes that prevent him from further selling weapons to Saudi Arabia. Although many detractors seek to end the transactions, the President claims that these resolutions will impact the global supply chain which is in the U.S.’s best interest, or the moneymakers best interest. Unfortunately, it is just now that the U.S. has discovered the faults of selling out its resources. Nevertheless, the conscious decision to invest in the lucrative sale of arms, despite its dangers, exemplifies that the government regards their economic interests over the lives of people.
Given the U.S. and Iran’s uneasy relationship, Iran’s allies possessing American weapons is concerning to say the least. After all, Iran proxies have already obtained U.S. weapons sold on the black market by arms dealers, who are essentially the ones profiting the most out of this. Located in many hidden spots of Yemen’s markets, these arms dealers, despite their shop’s size, can supply militias of stolen or traded U.S. weapons, so it is likely that the U.S. military technology vulnerabilities can be obtained by anyone. Essentially, American weapons can be studied to be engineered for native production, and testimony by Conflict Armament Research shows that the improvised explosive devices (IED) from America are already being mass-produced by the Houthi forces in Yemen.
Though it is still too early to tell, Iran’s possession of U.S. weapons could possibly be used against America in upcoming conflicts. In other words, it means the U.S. may possibly have to face the dilemma of fighting against Iran, who is using our nation’s technology.
In essence, it gives the President and Congress all the more reason to end this pact as the majority of military deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq are caused by IEDs.
However, in a sense, it might already be too late.
In 2017, the Pentagon found that the Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle has fallen in the hands of the Houthis’ de facto rebel leader. These vehicles were a vital factor in protecting American soldiers in avoiding roadside bombs, the main cause for most troop deaths each year. Now that Iran has obtained the core resource that protects American soldiers, there is no doubt they will tear the weapon down, find out how it works and use it against America.
Then again, what the U.S. will experience is nothing compared to what the people in Yemen have gone through. The U.S. exchange of weapons has caused the deaths of thousands of citizens, families, and children caught up in the on-going war. Since 2015, when the Yemen war began, investigations have found remnants to U.S.-manufactured bombs in a trail of incidents, causing the deaths of school children. Ironically, the more weapons the U.S. tries to supply Saudi Arabia to end the war and the people’s pain, more are suffering because of it. While the U.S. denies taking any responsibility for the decisions made by Saudi Arabia forces, they have no doubt worsened the situation, perpetuating this cycle of violence for the people in Yemen.
With that said, the U.S. urgently needs to take action, whether it is stepping out of the deal with Saudi Arabia or taking further action to protect U.S. military. It is essential for the U.S. to make a move before the consequences start emerging. Of course, the United States’ long history with Saudi Arabia cannot be changed overnight, but the government needs to realize this involvement with Saudi Arabia has caused more harm than good, despite initial intentions.
In the long run, this is not just an exchange of military information between the two countries, but a decision made by whether the U.S. is more interested in moving forward for better human relations and national safety or sole profit alone while another country suffers under this compromise.