US Halts Sale of Some Arms to Saudi Arabia
The United States will halt the planned sale of precision-guided weapons to Saudi Arabia, a U.S. official said, in response to concerns over Saudi military practices in the Yemeni civil war, which has claimed the lives of thousands of civilians.
The official said President Barack Obama's administration canceled the sale of air-dropped precision-guided munitions to Saudi Arabia, a key U.S. ally. "That's obviously a direct reflection of the concerns that we have about Saudi strikes that have resulted in civilian casualties," the official said.
In addition to canceling the sale of the precision-guided weapons, the U.S. will alter the way it trains Saudi air force personnel to improve their accuracy, a persistent source of concern in the Obama administration.
The decisions could further strain ties between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia at a time when the incoming administration of President-elect Donald Trump prepares to assume control of the executive branch of the U.S. government.
The United Nations human rights office said in August that the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen was responsible for about 60 percent of the 3,800 civilians killed since March 2015. Some rights groups have criticized the U.S. for supporting the Saudi war effort with weapons sales and refueling Saudi-led coalition jets. Some rights groups also say attacks by the Saudi-led coalition on clinics, factories, markets and schools amount to war crimes.
Saudi Arabia has either denied the attacks or said the presence of fighters in the targeted areas justified the strikes. Saudi Arabia has not yet responded to the latest decisions by the Obama administration.
Trump Picks Former Texas Governor Perry for Energy Chief Position
Perry, a staunch conservative, could shift the Department of Energy away from its recent focus on renewable energy, which President Barack Obama has championed, and back toward oil and fossil fuels, which Perry promoted in oil-rich Texas. Perry has been a vocal skeptic of man-made climate change, but during his tenure as governor turned Texas into a major producer of wind-powered energy.
In 2011, during his first unsuccessful bid for the presidency, Perry committed a political gaffe that diminished his chances in his race against Trump.
During a debate, Perry called for elimination of three federal government agencies - the Departments of Commerce and Education, and then couldn't remember the third, finally saying, "Oops." He later said Energy was the third agency he wanted to abolish.
For most of Tuesday, Trump continued to work in New York to fill his Cabinet before his inauguration on January 20, when Obama leaves office.
Media reports late Tuesday said Republican Congressman Ryan Zinke of Montana, a former Navy SEAL, was believed to be the president-elect's choice for Secretary of the Interior.