Publish dateTuesday 8 January 2019 - 00:46
Story Code : 177412
US to upgrade Saudi missile systems despite global backlash over Khashoggi murder
The United States has approved upgrades to Saudi Arabia’s missile defenses worth $195 million despite global outrage over the killing of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a report says.
AVA- In December, the State Department approved the commercial deal and notified Congress of the sale, but the exact dollar value of the transaction was recently revealed by the Security Assistance Monitor.
Under the deal, the kingdom will receive upgrades to improve its Patriot PAC-3 defenses, including a guidance system that increases its ability to intercept ballistic missiles able to evade US-made radars.
A State Department spokesperson said President Donald Trump had indicated that Washington would remain a “steadfast” partner for Saudi Arabia.
The pronouncement came despite growing outrage over Riyadh's aggression in Yemen and the death of Khashoggi, who was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last year.
The kingdom's military campaign has hit rough patches in Yemen where Houthi forces and their allies in the Yemeni army frequently target the Saudi military in retaliatory attacks.
“It’s not theoretical anymore for the Saudis,” Frank Rose, a former assistant secretary of state for arms control, verification, and compliance said of Yemen's missiles which have landed as far as Riyadh.  
“This situation has caused them to rethink many of their assumptions around missile defense,” said Rose, now a fellow at the Brookings Institution.
She noted that the Patriots can help protect smaller installations such as airfields, but don’t provide enough coverage to defend a large city such as Riyadh, which has been hit by Houthi missiles.
The deal was approved despite a bill introduced by a bipartisan group of senators aimed at halting US arms exports to Saudi Arabia in response to the “barbaric” murder of Khoshoggi, continued detention of activists and the “indiscriminate” bombing campaign in Yemen.
The Patriot deal could “provide another pipeline for the Trump administration to provide lethal assistance to Saudi Arabia,” online newspaper Al-Monitor said.
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