The United States and Saudi Arabia [article] have maintained strong ties since the 1970s. Initially, the ties developed as a way for the US to enhance its access to Saudi Arabia’s oil fields.
Today, the partnership extends beyond oil to the US supporting Saudi Arabia’s security against internal and external threats.
You can read about the history of the US-Saudi relationship here in this article.
The primary way the US protects Saudi Arabia’s security is by selling it weapons – 100s of billions of dollars worth of weapons [article]. Saudi Arabia is the number one purchaser of arms to the world and the US is its number one supplier [article].
Recently, US arms sales to Saudi Arabia have become very controversial for two reasons.
First, Saudi Arabia has been conducting a war in Yemen against the Houthi rebels and have been using US weapons to do so [article]. This has resulted in a lot of death and destruction in Yemen and many put most of the blame for the conflict on Saudi Arabia and its use of US weapons. Some argue that the US should reduce its weapons sales to Saudi Arabia in order to make it much more difficult for Saudi Arabia to fight the war in Yemen.
Second, most people say that the Saudi government, particularly its new Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (“MSB), is responsible for the murder of a Saudi citizen journalist who was working for the Washington Post [article] – Jasmal Khashoggi. Some argue that that the US should reduce its weapons sales to Saudi Arabia to punish Saudi Arabia for this blatant disregard of human rights.
Advocates of the arms sales contend that the sales are important for a number of reasons.
First, they argue that the sales provide an important source of jobs for people in the US and in other western countries (Canada, the United Kingdom, France, and Spain) that sell Saudi Arabia the weapons [article]
Second, they argue that the weapons are important to protect Saudi Arabia’s security against internal (domestic terrorists) and external (Iran) enemies.
Third, they argue that the sales are an important way to maintain ties with [article] an important oil producing country. The US needs access to a stable supply of oil at a reasonable price to support its economy.
After reading this brief overview and the linked articles, what do you think?
Should the US and other western nations continue to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia?
What arguments would you make in speeches on both sides of the debate?