Biden re-examines US arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE

Biden re-examines US arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE

The Biden administration has imposed a temporary freeze on US arms sales to Saudi Arabia and is scrutinizing purchases by the United Arab Emirates as they turn down billions of dollars. Weapon deals approved By the former president

Donald TrumpAccording to US officials.

The officials said the review includes the sale of precision-guided munitions to Riyadh, as well as advanced F-35 fighters to Abu Dhabi, a deal Washington agreed to as part of the. Abraham agreementsWhere the UAE established diplomatic relations with Israel.

US officials said it is not unusual for a new administration to review arms sales approved by a predecessor, and that despite the temporary pause, many deals are likely to eventually go ahead.

But in keeping with President Biden’s campaign pledges, Washington is seeking to ensure that American weapons are not used for more The Saudi-led military campaign in YemenWhere its conflict with the Houthis allied with Iran has resulted in the deaths of thousands of civilians and widespread hunger.

At the confirmation session last week, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said that Mr. Biden “made it clear that we will end our support for the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen, and I think we will work on that in a very short time.” . Mr Blinken said Washington would continue to help defend the Saudis against Houthi attacks.

A senior administration official said that arms sales to Saudi Arabia had been frozen pending review, but that sales to the UAE had not been frozen while being examined. The $ 23 billion arms package to the UAE includes long-term items such as combat aircraft and drones that, in some cases, will not be delivered for many years.

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at Twitter sharingThe UAE embassy in Washington said: “As in previous administrations, the UAE expected the current policies to be reviewed by the new administration.”

The embassy said the F-35s acted as a deterrent to aggression in the region. “In parallel with the new dialogue and security cooperation, this helps to reassure regional partners,” the embassy said.

Officials at the Saudi embassy in Washington did not comment on the developments.

A US official said the US Congress and defense industry had been informed of the review in recent days. It is not known how long the review will last.

Earlier this month in Sanaa, selfies were shown on graves of Yemenis who were said to have been killed in the ongoing war in the country.


Photo:

Yahya Arhab / Environmental Protection Agency / Shutterstock

Officials were unable to provide an accurate dollar figure for arms sales under review. But the review, they said, includes a $ 23 billion deal between Washington and the UAE for F-35 fighters, Reaper drones and various munitions that was completed on Mr Trump’s last full day in office, according to a statement on the website. The UAE Embassy in Washington.

It also includes billions of dollars in contracts with Riyadh, including a $ 290 million deal in precision-guided munitions that the US government agreed to in late December.

“The [State] A spokesperson for the ministry said that the department is temporarily halting the implementation of some US transfers and pending defense sales under Foreign Military Sales and Direct Commercial Sales to allow the incoming leadership the opportunity to review.

Describing it as a “routine administrative procedure,” the spokesman said the review “demonstrates the administration’s commitment to transparency and good governance, as well as ensuring that US arms sales meet our strategic goals of building stronger, more interoperable security partners.”

Biden has come under pressure from fellow Democrats in Congress to follow through on his campaign promises of a cruder approach to Saudi Arabia and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

In a letter to Mr. Blinken delivered late Tuesday, Democratic lawmakers urged the administration to freeze the delivery of offensive weapons to the Saudis, and to take other steps.

“We encourage the administration to take rapid corrective measures to withdraw US support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen and to intensify US diplomacy to support a political settlement,” said the letter, signed by four House committee chairs and Representative Tom. Malinowski (D., NJ), former Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy and Human Rights.

Mr. Biden, however, may need Help Riyadh In the face of Iran and its proxies in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia has been attacked twice in recent days in strikes believed to have been launched by Iranian-backed forces in the region.

During Trump’s presidency, Congress tried to prevent his administration from selling weapons to Saudi Arabia, efforts the president objected to.

Write to Warren B. Strobel at [email protected]

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