How the Saudis ended up with so many American weapons

And why they want more.

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Saudi Arabia and the US have a partnership that’s been in the making for over seven decades. It started after World War II and survived the Iranian Revolution, the Cold War, the Gulf War, September 11, and the proliferation of conflicts across the Middle East. This whole time, the US has been selling weapons to Saudi Arabia — now its number one customer. Saudis bought bombs, tanks, guns, and planes over the years to defend themselves from various threats. The US supplied those weapons because the Saudi’s threats have usually been a threat to the US as well.

Today, there’s a shift in the relationship. Saudi Arabia’s intervention in Yemen has created the worst humanitarian disaster in the world – and thrown the Middle East into chaos. The problem is, the Saudis are using US bombs to do it.

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For footage and reporting on the schoolbus bombing in Dahyan, Yemen, we turned to the investigative site Bellingcat as a source. For data on arms agreements and sales we relied on the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute and the Defense Security Cooperation Agency. For our reporting on the Arab-Israeli arms race, we referred to policy papers by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and the Congressional Research Service. We used research by the Brookings Institute and the Center for International Policy for contemporary U.S.-Saudi arms agreements analysis. Human Rights Watch reporting informed our coverage of the airstrikes and casualties in Yemen. A list of experts we spoke with are listed in the credits of the video.

Additional reading:
The first time a U.S. president met a Saudi king
Yemen’s guerrilla war tests military ambitions of big-spending Saudis
The Persian Gulf: Arms Race or Arms Control? (1975)
Oil Dependence and U.S. Foreign Policy 1850-2017
How the 1973 Oil Embargo Saved the Planet
The U.S. and Saudi Arabia Since the 1930’s
The Arms Trade: The Real Lesson of the Gulf War
A Saudi Prince’s Quest to Remake the Middle East
Arab armies: Full of sound and fury