Biden Reportedly Will Lift Weapons Sale Ban On Country He Previously Called ‘Pariah’

The Biden administration is expected to end a ban on the sale of offensive weapons to a country that the president once described as a “pariah,” according to Financial Times.

The U.S. has indicated to Saudi Arabian officials that it is willing and able to lift the moratorium, according to Financial Times. President Joe Biden imposed the ban on sales to Saudi Arabia shortly after taking office in 2021 due to the country’s excesses in its nine year-old war against the Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen

As a candidate for president on the campaign trail, Biden called Saudi Arabia a “pariah” state and asserted that they are “murdering children” in Yemen, according to Financial Times. Saudi Arabia is typically among the world’s leading purchasers of U.S. weaponry and defense equipment.

Turmoil in the Middle East following the October 7 attacks against Israel has reportedly convinced or reassured American policymakers that Saudi Arabia ought to be a key partner of the U.S. in the region,  according to Financial Times.

American officials have also said that a series of deals with Saudi Arabia are close to completion, which would include agreements about Saudi Arabia’s civilian nuclear program and a defense agreement, according to Financial Times. Those pacts would be part of a larger effort to have Saudi Arabia normalize relations with Israel, provided it makes strides toward establishing a state for the Palestinians, a position which may be unviable in Israel at present.

The move “would be an important step in continuing to rebuild the relationship between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia,” Ali Shihabi, a Saudi Arabian pundit with connections to the royal court, told Financial Times. “And lifting the ban has become more important given the way the Houthis have behaved since October 7.”

The Houthis have frequently targeted commercial and military ships transiting the Red Sea since October 7, and the group has also been targeted by U.S. airstrikes meant to deter further attacks.

The White House did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

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