Defense

Biden to move ahead with $23 billion UAE weapons sale approved by Trump

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The Biden administration is moving ahead with a $23 billion arms sale to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) that was approved under the Trump administration.

“We can confirm that that the Administration intends to move forward with these proposed defense sales to the UAE, even as we continue reviewing details and consulting with Emirati officials to ensure we have developed mutual understandings with respect to Emirati obligations before, during, and after delivery,” a State Department spokesperson told The Hill. HuffPost first reported the plan.

Former President Trump first announced the sale last year after the UAE agreed to form diplomatic relations with Israel. The package includes 50 F-35 Lightning II aircraft, as many as 18 MQ-9B unmanned aerial systems, and air-to-air and air-to-ground projectiles.

The State Department said in January it was pausing the sale so the Biden administration could review the package.

The sale had drawn ire from Democrats who have been critical of Saudi Arabia’s and the UAE’s roles in Yemen’s civil war against the Houthi rebels, which has killed thousands of civilians and led to a dire humanitarian crisis.

The State Department spokesperson maintained that the Biden administration would communicate with the UAE that the weapons must be used appropriately and that they would not be delivered until 2025 at the earliest.

“The estimated delivery dates on these sales, if implemented, are scheduled for after 2025 or later.  Thus, we anticipate a robust and sustained dialogue with the UAE to any defense transfers meet our mutual strategic objectives to build a stronger, interoperable, and more capable security partnership,” the spokesperson said.

“We will also continue to reinforce with the UAE and all recipients of U.S. defense articles and services that U.S.-origin defense equipment must be adequately secured and used in a manner that respects human rights and fully complies with the laws of armed conflict,” the spokesperson added.

Besides the UAE’s role in Yemen, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle expressed concern about the sale’s potential to erode Israel’s military advantage in the region. However, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz said they would not oppose selling Abu Dhabi “certain weapons systems” after the U.S. vowed to provide unspecified upgrades for Israel’s armed forces.

Tags Benjamin Netanyahu Benny Gantz Donald Trump Joe Biden United Arab Emirates

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