The US just made it harder for Saudi Arabia to bomb Yemen. The people of Yemen barely noticed.

On Jan. “These aircraft are optimized to drop these same precision-guided munitions that Washington has put on hold,” Wezeman   says. “The options for Saudi Arabia in the short term are quite limited,” he says, meaning that without a resupply, the Saudis could run short   of the guided weapons they need to hit targets in Yemen. US pilots are still flying tanker planes in the Gulf   region   to keep Saudi fighter jets airborne and at the ready. “We have no idea what the stocks are,” says Pieter Wezeman, a senior researcher   at the   Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, “both because we don’t know how many have been supplied, and also because we don’t really know how many they have been using. But observers have been quick to temper optimism about the move. “The most important thing that could happen right now,” he says, “is for the international community, and specifically the US and the UK, to signal to Saudi Arabia and the government of Yemen   that the conflict cannot continue, and this has been a very important first step.”
Paul, like many in the humanitarian community, has been frustrated with Washington’s inability to persuade   the Saudis to stop killing Yemeni civilians. People in Yemen barely noticed. And Secretary [John] Kerry can resume some of the really noble efforts he has taken on to try to broker an agreement.”
SIPRI’s Wezeman suggests that optimism may be premature. pic.twitter.com/VhV2M5oRhm
— ابراهيم عبدالكريم (@abrahama999) December 15, 2016
Saudi Arabia is by far the largest customer for the US defense industry, and as a condition of every foreign military sale, the   US State Department monitors how the Saudis use US-made weapons. And the same day the United States announced it was halting the weapons shipment, the US Air Force delivered the Saudis four new fighter jets — aircraft designed to launch the same precision-guided munitions that the Obama administration had just withheld. The United States made it harder this week for Saudi Arabia to drop bombs on the people of Yemen. Lately, it has reminded the Riyadh government   that American military support does not amount to   “a blank check.”  
But until the president’s announcement on Tuesday, the warnings had appeared toothless. PRI.org

President Barack Obama signaled his concern about civilian casualties in the Yemen war   on Tuesday, when he   halted a major resupply of smart bombs to the Saudi Arabian air force. #Yemen https://t.co/lzvFaZxmED
— Hisham Al-Omeisy (@omeisy) December 13, 2016
It’s hard to know what kind of effect the hold on the sale will have. The Department of Defense, following the White House announcement, said that   the US has not stopped giving logistical support to the Saudi-led coalition and continues to provide   intelligence to the Saudis who plan the bombing runs. In August, 11 people were killed and 19 more injured when a   hospital operated by Médecins Sans Frontières   was bombed in northern Yemen. Experts say the move could put   Saudi Arabia   in a serious bind when it comes to acquiring the munitions it needs to carry out its controversial air campaign in Yemen. “We’ve been pushing the international community, and in particular the US and the UK, to really put all of its weight behind a peace agreement and behind the protection of civilians,” says Scott Paul of Oxfam America. The same official also noted that the administration’s decision to halt the shipment of smart bombs does not mean the US is scaling back other kinds   of support for the Saudi operation   in Yemen. That includes the strap-on guided munition kits that convert the traditional “dumb bombs,” in use for the past century, into “smart bombs” — high-tech weapons which, dropped from a passing plane, can independently zero in on a target through laser, radio and radar guidance. 20, a new president   could choose to deliver smart bombs to go with the planes. “They could,” he says, “try to get them in the UK, but the UK only supplies bombs which contain US technology, so for that they would first need US permission, which obviously then they wouldn’t get.”
“They could go to France,” Wezeman adds, “but then they would have to adapt the French models to the British and American platforms —   the aircraft which the Saudis use —   but that will take time if at all being possible.”
Wezeman says other options for the Saudi air force, such as buying smart bombs from Israel (“Out of the question”)   or from   Russia or China (“The US would never allow it”) mean that Saudi Arabia’s ability   “to buy similar bombs elsewhere, especially in the short term, are very limited.”
Oxfam’s   Paul finds Washington’s move encouraging. “And now the message hopefully will be heard. While bodies were being removed from the scene, one Yemeni police officer snapped this photo of a shard from a   US-made bomb. “And to do that, it’s really been necessary to send a signal to the principal parties to the conflict that this kind of behavior won’t be tolerated.”
A State Department official confirmed that the administration is getting serious about Saudi conduct in the war. In September, 30 civilians were killed   when a coalition plane attacked a neighborhood in the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah. SMOKE of WAR: 55 Saudi airstrikes in 24 hours rock #Yemen capital & 7 regions targeting civilian populated areas & destroying family homes. “The US has been trying to say that now for over a year, but the message hasn’t been heard,” he says. And Saudi Arabia, for sure, is not going to tell anyone anything about that.”  
But by withholding smart bomb kits, says Wezeman, the US is   putting   its Saudi allies in a bind. There are 150 more Boeing F-15SA fighters in the pipeline. In Yemen, where airstrikes continued unabated this week, a hold on the sale of 16,000 Raytheon guided bomb kits seemed   almost irrelevant. He points out that on the same day the White House signaled its displeasure with the Saudis by halting the sale of smart bombs, four brand-new Boeing F-15SA fighter jets were delivered by the US Air Force to Saudi Arabia. After all, the bombing there has not stopped. Raining bombs here & kinda curious if will be out before leveling city. Airstrikes and ground fighting   have   limited Oxfam’s ability to deliver aid inside the country and have   put its staff at great risk. Read more: With US help, Saudi Arabia is obliterating Yemen
Under the Obama administration, the United States has offered the Saudis $115 billion in planes, bombs, missiles and support services. In the past few months, the Saudi-led coalition has struck a number of civilian targets in Yemen, in the course of its US-backed military operation against Houthi rebels and forces loyal to former   Yemeni President   Ali Abdullah Saleh. But it also made it easier.Player utilitiesPopout
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downloadListen to the Story. EXCLUSIVEPhoto taken by a police officer friend of mine from Al-Kobra Grand Hall airstrike aftermath! No one but the Saudis, and possibly the US Department of Defense, knows for sure how many smart bombs the Saudis still have on hand. The humanitarian relief organization Oxfam, which provides food and other basics to a million people inside Yemen, called the White House announcement a step in the right direction. “We continue to have concerns about the conflict in Yemen and how it has been waged, most especially the air campaign,” the official said in an email. #Yemen pic.twitter.com/sv8f5bgsna
— Ammar Aulaqi (@ammar82) October 10, 2016
It was not the first time a US weapon caused civilian casualties in Yemen. “Our ongoing policy review reflects our continued, strong concerns with the flaws in the Coalition’s targeting practices and overall prosecution of the air campaign in Yemen.”
“We are also exploring how to refocus training for the Saudi air force to address these kinds of issues,” the official added. And in October, at the Grand   Hall in the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, Saudi jets hit a funeral gathering, killing 140 people and injuring 500 more. Human Rights Watch has documented more that 20   cases where American weapons were used in unlawful airstrikes there.  
Any idea how many were delivered before cancelation?