Trump Administration concluded an agreement with the United Arab Emirates for the supply of various types of weapons for more than $23 billion.
On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate is voting on resolutions condemning the sale of arms worth more than 23 billion dollars to the United Arab Emirates, which was planned by the Donald Trump administration.
The resolutions are not expected to receive enough support in the Senate to overcome the presidential veto. According to the legislation, December 10 is the last day when Congress can block the sale of arms to the United Arab Emirates.
A group of senators from both parties that submitted the resolutions argue that the White House plan did not go through the proper congressional process for such large-scale military supplies, leaving unanswered questions from lawmakers about the purpose of sales and the security of arms supplies to the UAE.
Democrat Senator Chris Murphy, speaking at a Senate session on Wednesday, said preliminary consultations with Congress were necessary because the deal was very “large-scale, risky and complex.
“This is the first time we have sold F-35 fighters and MQ-9 drones… …to the Middle East. This has never been done before,” Murphy noted.
Amnesty International’s human rights group criticized the sale of U.S. drones and other UAE weapons, saying the emirates will use these weapons to participate in Yemen’s civil war.
“The United States must abstain from supplying weapons that could be used in this conflict and not sell weapons to the United Arab Emirates at the risk of complicity in possible war crimes committed in Yemen,” Amnesty International said in a November statement.
According to the State Department, the total volume of arms sales to the UAE is $23.37 billion, including 50 F-35 Lighting aircraft worth more than $10 billion and unmanned aerial systems worth $3 billion, as well as air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles worth $10 billion.
Last month, the UAE and Israel signed a peace agreement that paved the way for normalizing relations between the two countries. Commenting on the agreement, u.s. secretary of state Mike Pompeo said in November that it “provides a unique opportunity to change the strategic landscape of the region for the better. Our adversaries, especially in Iran, are aware of it, and will stop at nothing to prevent the success of all. The proposed sale (of arms) is helping to improve interaction between the UAE and the U.S.”.
However, the speed with which the deal was concluded has forced U.S. lawmakers to ask the administration many questions that remain unanswered.
“We are well aware of the threat that Iran still poses to U.S. national security interests. But we still don’t understand how F-35 fighters or combat drones will help Iran,” Senator Bob Menendez, a leading Democrat on the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee, said Wednesday.
The resolutions were presented by Menendez and Murphy together with Republican Senator Rand Paul. A similar resolution was also tabled in the House of Representatives.