The administration of US President Barack Obama has approved a deal worth billions of dollars to sell Saudi Arabia four advanced warships.
The US Defense Department said on Tuesday that it has notified Congress of the $11.25 billion deal after the State Department approved the sale to the Saudi government.
US lawmakers have one month to reject the sale, although such measures are rare since potential deals are carefully examined before formal notification.
The Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency, which oversees foreign military sales, notified Congress on Monday about the potential sale of the Lockheed Martin combat ships.
The ships are relatively small but designed to be fast and maneuverable in shallow water.
“This sale demonstrates the enduring US commitment to building robust diplomatic and security partnerships essential to promoting peace and stability in the [Persian] Gulf region,” said one US official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The sale comes as the Saudi regime has come under increasing criticism over civilian casualties from its airstrikes against Yemen and a harsh crackdown on political dissidents inside the country.
The United Nations has condemned the Saudis over their airstrikes against the Houthi Ansarullah movement in Yemen, which have resulted in the deaths and injuries of thousands of innocent civilians, including children.
Some 7,000 people have reportedly lost their lives in the Saudi raids, and at least 14,000 people have been injured.
Yemen has been under Saudi attacks on a daily basis since March 26. The strikes are supposedly meant to undermine the Houthi Ansarullah movement and restore power to fugitive former president, Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, a staunch ally of Riyadh.
The Saudis are also facing criticism from human rights groups over their continued refusal to allow basic rights to women as well as for their suppression of political dissidents.