Most Americans oppose arms sales to Saudi, new poll finds 

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The majority of Americans surveyed in a new poll are opposed to the continued supply of US arms to Saudi Arabia.

According to the fifth annual survey released yesterday by Eurasia Group Foundation (EGF), which interviewed 2,002 voting-age Americans in August on their views of US foreign policy and the global role of the US, the majority of respondents have favourable views of the foreign policy of the Biden administration, in some categories respondents were found to be in favour of scaling down US military activity and increasing diplomatic engagements on transnational issues.

The poll also found that most Americans – nearly 70 per cent were against the continuation of US arms sales to Saudi Arabia, of those almost 35 per cent were “strongly” opposed to it.

Among the top reasons for those opposed to the arms sales was the kingdom’s track record of human rights abuses followed by its use of US-provided weapons in the war against Yemen.

However, those who were supportive of the US continuing its arms supply to Saudi Arabia mainly cited the importance of Riyadh in containing Iranian regional aggression and the importance of Saudi oil and economic ties with the US.

READ: US State Department approves billions of dollars’ worth of arms sales to Saudi Arabia, UAE

Despite the mostly negative view on US arms sales to the Saudis, respondents were said to be more evenly divided on the issue of arms sales to Israel. Over half agreed somewhat (28.6 per cent) or strongly (24 per cent) while roughly 47 per cent disagreed somewhat (26.4 per cent) or strongly (21 per cent).

Age was also a factor, as the majority of younger Americans (aged 18-29) disagreed with the continuation of arms sales to Israel.

The US is the world’s largest arms exporter, between 2016-2020 the US sold weapons to 96 countries, about half of its total arms sales (43 per cent) were to countries in the Middle East. After India, Saudi Arabia is the world’s second largest importer of arms and the largest importer of American weapons.

In August the Biden administration approved two massive arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE in order to help them defend themselves against threats by Iran. The missile defence and related sales are worth over $5 billion and include $3 billion for Patriot missiles and $2.2 billion for high-altitude missile defence for the UAE.

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