US lawmakers ‘concerned’ as Biden proceeds with Trump-era arms sales to UAE

The US F-35 aircraft made by Lockheed Martin. (File photo)

US Democrats in Congress say they are concerned about the President Joe Biden administration’s decision to proceed with billions of dollars Trump-era weapons sales to the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The Biden administration will approve $23 billion in weapons sales to Abu Dhabi as it is close to completing a review of the Trump-era weapons sales to the UAE and Saudi Arabia, US State Department announced on Tuesday.

A spokesman for the department said Washington will go ahead with the plan “even as we continue reviewing details and consulting with Emirati officials” related to the use of the weapons.

The sale of weapons to the Perisan Gulf country had been finalized before former president Donald Trump left office.

It came after the Emirates soon had signed a normalization agreement with Israel brokered by the Trump administration.

On Wednesday, the Democratic chairman of the US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, Gregory Meeks, criticized the administration’s decision to go ahead with the plan, saying that, “I still have many questions about any decision by the Biden Administration to go forward with the Trump Administration’s proposed transfers of F-35s, armed UAVs (drones), munitions and other weapons.”

“Fortunately, none of these transfers would occur any time soon,” Meeks noted in s statement.

He said that “there will be ample time for Congress to review whether these transfers should go forward and what restrictions and conditions would be imposed.”

The $23.37 billion package contained 50 F-35 Lighting II aircraft, up to 18 MQ-9B Unmanned Aerial Systems and a package of air-to-air and air-to-ground munitions.

After taking office in January, the Biden administration had “paused” the plan in order to conduct a review.

Rights groups also had concerns about the sale, citing the UAE’s involvement in Saudi Arabia’s devastating war on Yemen.

Abu Dhabi is a key party to the Saudi war on Yemen that, according to The United Nations, has caused one of the world’s worst humanitarian disasters.

“United States drones could be responsible for UAE attacks that violate international humanitarian law and kill, as well as injure, thousands of Yemeni civilians,” said Philippe Nassif, advocacy director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International USA.

The New York Center for Foreign Policy Affairs non-profit filed lawsuit over the sale to the Persian Gulf state.

According to its principal director, Justin Thomas Russell, the weapons could fall into the wrong hands.

“We had hoped for better things out of the Biden administration ... and now those hopes have been dashed,” he said.

Biden had suspended the sale of many offensive weapons to Saudi Arabia approved under the Trump administration.

The president said he would end “all American support for offensive operations in the war in Yemen, including relevant arms sales.”

His administration also decided to suspend the sale of air-to-ground offensive weapons used by fixed-wing aircraft — mainly fighter jets and drones — to the kingdom.

The suspension, however, does not cover sales of any other kinds of weapons to Saudi Arabia, said US officials.

Weapons used by helicopters would still be permitted, as well as ground-to-ground munitions and small arms.

Back in February, he announced an end to Washington’s support for the Saudi war on Yemen.

However, the Biden administration officials have repeatedly pledged to help the Saudis “defend themselves.”

Over the past four years of Trump’s presidency, lawmakers have repeatedly failed to block his plans for arms sales to Washington’s allies in the Middle East, including Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Last year, Trump vetoed a series of measures that would have blocked the sale of billions of dollars of arms to Riyadh and Abu Dhabi.

The former US president claimed back then that blocking the arms sales “would weaken America’s global competitiveness and damage the important relationships we share with our allies and partners.”

Saudi Arabia has been Washington’s number one weapons buyer.

Press TV’s website can also be accessed at the following alternate addresses:

Press TV News Roku