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Biden confirms $23 billion arms sales to UAE despite concerns from Congress

Joe Biden told congress of weapons sales [Getty]

Date of publication: 14 April, 2021

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Joe Biden’s administration confirmed that it will follow through on a $23 billion weapons sales to the UAE.
US President Joe Biden's administration confirmed that it will greenlight a $23 billion weapons sale to the UAE, despite opposition from Democrats in Congress about its potential to further fuel violence in Yemen.

A State Department spokesperson revealed to Reuters that the administration will sell weapons - including armed drones and advanced F-35 aircraft - to the UAE "even as we continue reviewing details and consulting with Emirati officials" on where and how the weapons will be used.

The sales will include weaponry from several leading arms manufacturers, including Lockheed Martin Corp, General Atomics and Raytheon Technologies Corp.

In the $23.37 billion sale, there will be 50 F-35 Lightning II aircraft, 18 MQ-9B Unmanned Aerial Systems and air-to-air and air-to-ground munitions.

The deal between Washington and Abu Dhabi was brokered by the Trump administration as part of the so-called Abraham Accords - under former US President Donald Trump - which saw Israel and the UAE normalise relations.

At the time, Democrats in Congress stopped the deals so they could be reviewed due to fears the weapons might be used in Yemen, where the country is mired by war and potential famine.

UAE and the Yemen conflict

Justifying the deal at the time, then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the arms would address, the "UAE's need for advanced defence capabilities to deter and defend itself against heightened threats from Iran".

Some US Senators attempted, and failed, to block the deal in December, claiming it was being rushed through without proper assurances that the arms would not fuel further instability in the region.

The Biden administration has been critical of the devastating war in Yemen, which a Saudi Arabia and UAE-led military coalition has been engaged in since 2015.

Biden has also expressed his desire to resume the dormant nuclear deal with the UAE and Saudi Arabia's regional adversary, Iran.

"I would end US support for the disastrous Saudi-led war in Yemen and order a reassessment of our relationship with Saudi Arabia," Biden said in 2019.

News of the arms deal review was welcomed by the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT).

"If Biden sticks to his word and ends the arms sales it could be a huge step towards ending the brutal bombardment and blockade [in Yemen]," CAAT said in a statement.

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