President Trump has suggested that his administration is unlikely to halt US arms sales to Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi’s disappearance. That means forgoing the most effective leverage the US has over the Kingdom, argues Bruce Riedel in Lawfare.
“The three-and-a-half-year-old Saudi war in Yemen is hugely expensive. There are no public figures from the Saudi government about the war’s costs, but a conservative estimate would be at least $50 billion per year,” Riedel writes.
“Maintenance costs for aircraft and warships go up dramatically when they are constantly in combat operations. The Royal Saudi Navy has been blockading Yemen for over 40 months. The RSAF has conducted thousands of air strikes. The war is draining the kingdom’s coffers. And responsibility for the war is on Mohammed bin Salman, who as defense minister has driven Riyadh into this quagmire. Shaking the arms relationship is by far the most important way to clip his wings.”