The issue is the $ 23 billion sale of advanced weapons to the Gulf country, a strategic ally of the United States that recently signed a peace agreement with Israel, mediated by the Trump government. Senior defense officials have already begun lobbying lawmakers to oppose a bipartisan series of measures that could soon be on the floor, according to congressional aides.
Senior officials from the Pentagon and the State Department also briefed senators on Monday night about the arms sale, which includes 50 F-35 aircraft, a huge set of missiles and 18 Reaper drones – a significant development in the country’s military capabilities as they are located around the proxy. Near East. This is one of a number of foreign policy moves the Trump government will launch during the presidential transition, including the withdrawal of Afghan troops, which sparked a bipartisan fire.
A Senate assistant familiar with the classified prospectus said “important issues” regarding the transfer remained uncertain, including the specific obligations that the UAE would have to fulfill as part of the deal. Foreign Minister Mike Pompeo said earlier that the purpose of the transfer was to “restrain and protect Iran from increased threats.”
Menendez, the chief Democrat on the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, described Monday’s briefing as “unsatisfactory” and said he plans to make progress before the December 11 deadline for the statutory 30-day review period expires. The four resolutions, each of which deals with a particular ammunition sale, are “privileged” in the Senate, meaning they can be put to the vote without the consent of the majority party leadership. Menendez says it’s possible to call only “some” of them.
But both time and chance of success do not stand by them. Even if the decisions pass through both chambers of Congress, Trump will certainly veto them, and a two-thirds majority overriding the president’s veto is highly unlikely. Moreover, Congress is working feverishly this week and next week to pass a government funding measure and an annual defense bill.
President-elect Joe Biden may not be completely stuck. You could probably stop the sale when he takes office in January with the help of his executive power. Biden Secretary of State candidate Antony Blinken said in October that the Biden team “has concerns about what commitments it has made or failed to make to the UAE” as part of its F-35 aircraft business.
Senators who attended Monday’s classified brief said unanswered questions included whether the arms sale was a reward for the UAE’s agreement to normalize relations with Israel. They also said that the United States risks having sophisticated technology end up in the wrong hands.
“I want to ensure there are some chunky defenses,” said Senator Tim Kaine (D-Va.), A senior member of the Foreign Relations Committee. “We cannot give this technology to the UAE if we are concerned about compromising the security of the technology.”
While most Republican senators are expected to oppose the blockade of arms sales, some point to concerns about the framework, including the impact this would have on Israel’s security.
“I want to make sure the sale retains the quality advantage we provided for Israel,” said Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. – We look forward to learning more about this.
Trump’s presidency has been marked by numerous battles with Congress, but few have become more controversial than those affecting the president’s foreign policy decisions – many of which were carried out without consultation with Capitol Hill, where there is deep skepticism about the Trump administration’s strategy. deterrence against Iran.
“I don’t think you’re taking peace with a gun,” Paul, the leading GOP sponsor of the resolutions, said in an interview. “I don’t think it’s advisable to send sophisticated military weapons to the powder keg, which is the Middle East.” I think it makes it more likely that Iran will further develop its weapons.
Further concerns are the volatile record of the UAE on human rights issues, the possibility of ammunition falling into the wrong hands, and a possible Middle East arms race that threatens Israel.
“Do you think that by selling these armed drones and F-35s to the UAE, Iran is saying,‘ we probably don’t need more missiles ’? No, that makes them need more,” Paul said.
Senators also expressed reservations about the timing of the deal, with some suggesting that the Trump administration was urging the transfer in order to undermine the efforts of the incoming Biden team to pave a new path in the Middle East – especially with Iran.
“There are real concerns about agreements like this, especially an administration late when a new administration arrives,” said Senator Jeanne Shaheen (DN.H.), a senior member of the External Relations panel.
Most senators are not yet considering the issue, including those they think are willing to support Menendez-led efforts. Sens. Todd Young (R-Ind.) And Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), for example, have said they are still studying the issue and are unwilling to say which direction they are leaning.
Paul predicted that it would be harder to attract GOP support to overturn arms sales to the UAE than it was for recent sales to Saudi Arabia. Last year, the House and Senate passed resolutions blocking Riyadh-like sales following the government’s targeted assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and American support for the Saudi-led coalition in the Yemeni civil war amid bipartisan opposition.
Seven GOP senators, including Young and Murkowksi, along with Democrats voted in favor of these sales – which ultimately took place when Trump vetoed the measures – in part because “Kasshoggi’s assassination“ ignited passions, ”Paul said.
“I think it will be harder to get 50 votes than for Saudi Arabia,” he added. – But the debate is still worth holding.