Ayyeee… What’s Goodie Everyone. So I got some tea and it involves The Biden Administration investigating an arms sell to Saudi Arabia and U.A.E by the Trump administration.
The Biden administration is reviewing some of the weapons sales to Gulf Arab states approved by the Trump administration, including tens of billions of dollars of advanced fighter jets to the United Arab Emirates and precision munitions to Saudi Arabia.
On Wednesday a State Department official speaking on background said that the administration was temporarily pausing some of the arms sales and transfers, calling the move a routine action typical of presidential transitions. The situation drew unusual attention because the arms deals with the Gulf Arab nations, approved in the last months of the Trump administration, were the subject of intense political debate even before the review. Some Democrats expressed hope on Wednesday that the sales would be canceled, even as the administration downplayed the review.
Democrats in Congress have strongly opposed the sales out of disgust over the Saudi and Emirati role in Yemen’s grueling civil war, which has inflicted vast civilian suffering, but they failed to attract enough Republican support to block deals with congress in December. Many Democrats began pressuring President Biden even before his inauguration to halt the sales. The deals in question include the $23 billion sale to the Emirates of 50 F-35 fighters and 18 Reaper drones, which former president Donald Trump approved in the fall as an inducement for the Emirates to normalize diplomatic relations with Israel as part of the “Abraham Accords,” one of Trump’s proudest achievements.
In December, the State Department approved the sale of $478 million in precision guided munitions to Saudi Arabia, over the strong objections of Democrats, who said the bombs were sure to wind up killing innocent civilians in Yemen. Trump administration officials called that deal essential to supporting the Saudis in their fight against the Iranian backed Houthis. Officials did not provide full details of all the agreements under review, but Mr. Trump approved the sale of billions of dollars of arms to the Saudis. A senior administration official said that the review does not include a freeze on sales under the Emirati deal. A congressional official familiar with the review said that the Saudi arms shipments would be paused during the review.
The news comes as many Democrats in Congress call for a reassessment of the United States’ relationship with the Gulf States, particularly Saudi Arabia. Trump and Jared Kushner, his son in law and senior adviser, worked in virtual lock step with the Saudis and Emiratis. But Democrats say the war in Yemen and human rights issues, including the killing of the Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi in October 2018, demand a more skeptical relationship.