US approves $3.8B in arms sales to Bahrain
The State Department approved a more than $3.8 billion arms deal for Bahrain on Friday, according to Pentagon officials.
The Pentagon said the proposed sales include fighter jets worth up to $2.7 billion and $1.8 billion in upgrades to Bahrain’s F-16 fleet, Reuters reported.
However, arms deals have been a point of contention between the administration and Congress.
President Trump’s $110 billion defense deal with Saudi Arabia earlier this year was met with bipartisan backlash from some members of Congress, citing human right’s concerns.
Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) vowed in June to bar arms sales to Persian Gulf states in the wake of the Qatar crisis over the summer, in which a Saudi Arabia-led group of nations in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) cut diplomatic and economic ties with Qatar, citing its relations with Iran and what they say is its support for extremist groups.
Qatar has denied the allegations.
“All countries in the region need to do more to combat terrorism, but recent disputes among the [Gulf Cooperation Council] countries only serve to hurt efforts to fight [the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria] and counter Iran,” Corker wrote to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at the time.
“For these reasons, before we provide any further clearances during the informal review period on sales of lethal military equipment to the GCC states, we need a better understanding of the path to resolve the current dispute and reunify the GCC,” he continued.
Despite the reservations, the deal was given the green light by the Senate Foreign Relations and House Foreign Affairs Committees, Reuters reported Friday.
News of the deal comes after Trump spoke with the heads of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Qatar on Friday, emphasizing unity between Washington’s Arab partners in the face of threats from Iran.