ACTION ALERT: Hillary Clinton's F-15s -- A 'Christmas Gift' to the Saudis and US Arms Makers
February 26, 2016
Code Pink & Lee Fang / The Intercept
New emails reveal that, on Christmas Eve 2011, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her aides celebrated an arms deal that sent a "Christmas present" of US F-15 fighter jets to Saudi Arabia. The Saudis have used those jets to conduct bombing raids that have killed 2,800 Yemeni civilians -- a level of slaughter that international human rights groups have called war crimes. Meanwhile, Lockheed Martin, Boeing rally around Saudi Arabia, waving off humanitarian concerns.
Deadly Jets: Hillary Clinton's "Christmas Present" to Saudis
(February 25, 2016) -- According to a new report, on Christmas Eve 2011, Hillary Clinton and her aides in the State Department celebrated when a deal authorizing the sale of F-15 fighter jets to Saudi Arabia was finalized, with one aide going as far as calling it a "Christmas present."
Those F-15s are now being used by the Saudi government to conduct merciless bombing raids on Yemeni civilians, raids that have led to the deaths of 2,800 so far and which international human rights organizations are saying amount to war crimes.
Saudi bombing raids have killed journalists and ambulance drivers, and the American-made F-15s have been implicated in the targeting of three facilities supported by Doctors Without Borders. In addition to horrifying civilian casualties, the bombing raids are also decimating Yemen's unique architectural history, possibly in violation of international humanitarian law.
During her tenure as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton made weapons transfer to the Saudi government a "top priority," according to a new report published in The Intercept. [See story below – EAW]
Clinton's State Department was deeply invested in getting weapons sales to Saudi Arabia approved while at the same time the Clinton Foundation continued to accept million dollar donations from the Saudi royal family and Boeing, the manufacturer of the F-15.
The United States should not be complicit in horrifying human rights abuses committed by Saudi Arabia.
ACTION: Sign this petition to Hillary Clinton and all the presidential candidates, asking them to pledge to end weapons sales to Saudi Arabia once they are in office.
P.S. Join us for our 2016 Summit on Saudi Arabia, March 5 & 6 in Washington, DC.
Damage to a sewing workshop in Sanaa hit by a Saudi-led coalition airstrike on Feb. 14, 2016. The shop's owner told AFP that "two employees, including a 14-year-old boy, were killed and 15 others wounded in the overnight air raid."
Emails Show Hillary Clinton Aides Celebrating F-15 Sales to Saudi Arabia: "Good News"
Lee Fang / The Intercept
(February 22, 2016) -- The shockingly brutal Saudi air campaign in Yemen has been led by American-made F-15 jet fighters.
The indiscriminate bombing of civilians and rescuers from the air has prompted human rights organizations to claim that some Saudi-led strikes on Yemen may amount to war crimes. At least 2,800 civilians have been killed in the conflict so far, according to the United Nations -- mostly by airstrikes. The strikes have killed journalists and ambulance drivers.
The planes, made by Boeing, have been implicated in the bombing of three facilities supported by Doctors Without Borders (Medicins Sans Frontieres). The U.N. Secretary General has decried "intense airstrikes in residential areas and on civilian buildings in Sanaa, including the chamber of commerce, a wedding hall, and a center for the blind," and has warned that reports of cluster bombs being used in populated areas "may amount to a war crime due to their indiscriminate nature."
Bombs dropped by fighter jets are pulverizing Yemen's architectural history, possibly in violation of international humanitarian law.
A few years earlier, as secretary of state, Hillary Clinton made weapons transfer to the Saudi government a "top priority," according to her closest military aide.
And now, newly released emails show that her aides kept her well-informed of the approval process for a $29.4 billion sale in 2011 of up to 84 advanced F-15SA fighters, manufactured by Boeing, along with upgrades to the pre-existing Saudi fleet of 70 F-15 aircraft and munitions, spare parts, training, maintenance, and logistics.
The deal was finalized on Christmas Eve 2011. Afterward, Jake Sullivan, then Clinton's deputy chief of staff and now a senior policy adviser on her presidential campaign, sent her a celebratory email string topped with the chipper message: "FYI -- good news."
The email string was part of a new batch of emails from Clinton's private server, made public on Friday evening as the result of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.
One American official, whose name is redacted in the emails, said he had just received confirmation that Prince Salman, now the king of Saudi Arabia but at the time the senior Saudi liaison approving the weapons deal, had "signed the F-15SA LOA today" and would send scanned documents the following day.
"Not a bad Christmas present," he added.
Another official, whose name is also redacted, confirmed that a Saudi general who had been working with US officials was "pleased, as are all of us," and said he would soon contact executives at Boeing.
The congratulatory tone continues through the email chain with other officials, also with redacted names, calling the weapons deal "Great news!"
On December 26, Jeremy Bash, then-chief of staff at the Pentagon, sent the email string, titled "F-15SA Christmas Present," to Sullivan, who sent it to Clinton with his own note at the top.
David Sirota and Andrew Perez have previously reported for the International Business Times that Clinton's State Department was heavily involved in approving weapons sales to Saudi Arabia. As weapons transfers were being approved, both the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Boeing made donations to the Clinton Foundation. The Washington Post revealed that a Boeing lobbyist helped with fundraising in the early stages of Hillary Clinton's current presidential campaign.
Jeremy Bash is now managing partner at Beacon Global Strategies, a consulting firm that provides advice to Clinton on foreign policy while providing paid advice to the military contracting industry.
The first air strikes on capital Sanaa.
Lockheed Martin, Boeing Rally Around
Saudi Arabia, Wave Off Humanitarian Concerns
Lee Fang / The Intercept
(October 23 2015) -- Representatives from two major defense contractors whose advanced weaponry is being used in the Saudi Arabia-led bombing campaign that has killed scores of civilians in Yemen were quick to defend the human rights record of the Persian Gulf kingdom in a panel discussion held last week in Washington, D.C.
Ronald L. Perrilloux Jr., an executive with Lockheed Martin, complained of an atmosphere of "hostile media reports" shaping the views of Congress, most of which, he said, are "patently false."
"Another significant irritant," Perrilloux said, "is the application of human rights laws" toward US allies in the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates. Perrilloux argued that these countries, despite being "better partners to us than some of our NATO allies," were being unfairly judged compared to Chinese human rights abuses.
Democrats on Capitol Hill recently blocked arms transfers to Saudi Arabia over concerns regarding the rising civilian death toll caused by the campaign.
Jeffrey Kohler, a retired Air Force lieutenant general who left the military and now work as a vice president at Boeing, declared, "We ought be encouraging that type of cooperation and facilitating and helping them with the gaps instead of just throwing stones."
Perrilloux added that "the biggest thing we can do to help them finish the job is to provide them with the benefit of our experiences, with training of their forces, and probably replenishment of their forces."
Listen to the discussion here.
Smoke billows following an air strike by Saudi-led coalition on May 11, 2015, in the capital Sanaa.
The increased attention to the human rights record of Saudi Arabia is due to several factors. The absolute monarchy has dramatically ramped up executions as well as repressive police actions against minority groups, including Shiite Saudis. Many of the executions are in connection with trivial offenses, such as adultery and acts considered as "sorcery."
Newly installed UK Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn made headlines in recent weeks by demanding that Prime Minister David Cameron intervene to stop the planned execution and crucifixion of Ali Mohammed al-Nimr, a Shiite who was arrested as a teenager for protesting the Saudi government.
Boeing and Lockheed Martin play a pivotal role in the war in Yemen and the Saudi-led air campaign, which has contributed significantly to the civilian death toll. Saudi Arabia's air force is using Boeing-made F-15 jets to bomb Yemen.
The United Arab Emirates' air force, a major partner in the Sunni Arab and Western coalition to restore Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi to power, uses Lockheed Martin-manufactured F-16 jets to strike Yemen.
Other aerial bombs have struck apartment buildings, markets, refugee camps, and at least two wedding parties. A single mission from Amnesty International documented Saudi-led coalition airstrikes that killed around 100 people, over half of them children.
Perrilloux is Lockheed Martin's director of international business for the Middle East and Africa region, and a former US air attaché and acting defense attaché to Saudi Arabia.
Kohler now serves as the vice president of international sales and marketing for defense, space and security at Boeing.
For both defense contracting giants, the Middle East is still a growing market. The Congressional Research Service notes that between October 2010 and October 2014, the US signed off on more than $90 billion in weapons deals to the Saudi government.
Weapons transfers are actually a foundation for stability, the executives argued. "More often than not, it is the military relationship that will keep the relations and the bonds between countries very strong," Kohler said. "When you sell somebody a big platform like an F-15, you build a 30-plus year relationship with that air force."
The conference, organized by the National Council on US-Arab Relations, was designed to promote the strength of the alliance between the US and Saudi Arabia.
The list of sponsors was dominated by powerful oil, gas, and defense contracting companies, including Aramco, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Marathon Oil, ConocoPhillips, Raytheon, United Technologies, SAIC, Leidos, Halliburton, Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems, GE, and Northrop Grumman.
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