A bipartisan troika of senators made efforts Wednesday to block the Trump administration’s $ 23 billion arms package to the United Arab Emirates.
Meaning. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) Menendez Democratic senators call on Facebook to take action against anti-Muslim bigotry (DN.J.), Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; Rand Paul (R-Ky.); and Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott Murphy Democratic senators call on Facebook to take action against anti-Muslim bigotry The Morning Morning Report – presented by the UAE – the US registered 1 million cases of COVID-19 in one week; governors crack down Democrats seek to sharpen message after Senate failure MORE (D-Conn.) Introduced four separate resolutions Wednesday that would kill the administration’s plan to sell the UAE’s F-35 fighter jets, armed drones, missiles and bombs.
“While I have tried to warn the Trump administration, circumventing the deliberative process of considering a mass arms influx into a country in an unstable region with many ongoing conflicts is irresponsible,” Menendez said in a statement.
Last week, the Trump administration notified Congress that it approved the sale of up to $ 10.4 billion worth of $ 50.4 billion to the UAE, up to $ 2.97 billion worth of 18 MQ-9B drones and an air-to-air and land worth $ 10 billion.
The formal notice began a 30-day period in which Congress could block sales with resolutions such as those introduced Wednesday.
Under the law governing arms sales in the United States, such resolutions are considered “privileged,” meaning senators can force a vote, even if the Senate leadership does not support them.
Senators can force a vote as soon as 10 days after the resolutions are introduced.
Arms sales are a common point of tension between Congress and the Trump administration.
Three of Trump’s eight vetoes have focused on resolutions that would block arms sales to Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern partners.
The administration has used an accelerated process to push through Saudi sales, despite congressional opposition stemming from the killing of civilians in the Yemeni civil war and the killing of American journalist Jamal Hashoghi.
Trump was also forced to veto a resolution designed to end US support for the Saudis in Yemen.
Lawmakers are also concerned about Yemen in its opposition to arms sales in the UAE.
“The Emirates are an important security partner, but their recent behavior shows that these weapons can be used in violation of American and international law,” Murphy said in a statement Wednesday. “The UAE has violated past arms sales agreements, as a result of which weapons in the United States have fallen into the hands of dangerous police groups and they have not complied with international law in Libya and Yemen.”
Lawmakers have also expressed concern about the sale, which undermines Israel’s military advantage in the region. The US commitment to Israel’s so-called qualitative military advantage has been enshrined in a 2008 law.
The Trump administration accelerated the sale after Abu Dhabi signed a normalization agreement with Israel at the White House ceremony in September in what was called the Abrahamic Agreement.
Initially, Israel continued to oppose the sale of the UAE F-35 after the signing of the Abrahamic agreements. But last month, the Israeli prime minister Benjamin NetanyahuBenjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu MORE and Defense Secretary Benny Ganz said their country would not oppose the United States selling “certain weapons systems” to Abu Dhabi after Washington agreed to vague improvements for the Israeli military.
In a statement, Murphy said that while he supported the normalization agreement, “nothing in this agreement requires us to flood the region with more weapons and facilitate a dangerous arms race.”
“There are a number of unresolved issues about how these sales would affect the national security interests of both the United States and Israel,” Menendez said in a statement. “As a result, Congress is once again intervening to serve as a check, to avoid gaining on the national security of the United States and that of our allies, and to hopefully prevent a new arms race in the Middle East.”