The political circles in the American capital, Washington, are preoccupied with the real meaning behind the administration of the new president, Joe Biden, a decision to review and stop the sale of weapons to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the F-35 fighters to the United Arab Emirates.
In this context, a number of questions arise, such as whether the decision came within the framework of “reviewing” the decisions taken during the last months and weeks of the rule of former President Donald Trump, or whether this decision has political implications that go beyond the review process for a larger scale and relate to Washington’s future relations with Riyadh or Abu Antelope?
And in mid-2019, the Trump administration invoked the state of emergency law that allowed it to bypass gun control laws, in order to speed up arms sales and avoid Congressional oversight of arms sales that Trump had pledged to the leaders of the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan.
The move angered many lawmakers from both parties, who described the decision as an abuse of power.
Anil Schnell, a Gulf affairs expert at the Quincy Institute in Washington, said in a tweet, “Members of Congress tried and failed to prevent arms sales to the UAE last November, and then their hopes were focused on the Biden administration not going ahead with the massive sale. Weapons, which may link the United States to future conflicts in the Middle East. “
And last December, the Senate failed to pass two decisions regarding ammunition deals for Saudi Arabia and F-35s for the UAE, valued at more than $ 18 billion.
Congress tried & failed to block the sale to the UAE in November. They hoped that the incoming Biden admin would not move forward with the massive sale of weapons, which could potentially tie the United States to future conflicts in the region.
– Dr. Annelle Sheline (@AnnelleSheline) January 27, 2021
An American official who spoke to Axios said that although the two agreements are under review, the munitions deal with Saudi Arabia is “stalled”, while the F-35 deal with the United Arab Emirates is “under study.”
And the new Secretary of State Tony Blinken had expressed during the Senate session to confirm that he had reviewed some of the commitments made by the Trump administration, and in the same session, Blinken confirmed his country’s commitment to ending US support for the war in Yemen.
A congressional research study issued after the UAE reached an agreement to normalize relations, said that by committing to normalization with Israel, it can be said that the Emirati leadership hopes to extract some benefits from the United States regardless of the outcome of the presidential elections.
The Congressional Research Service study – which represents the research arm of members of the Senate and House of Representatives – indicated that Washington’s sale of F-35 military aircraft and advanced unmanned aerial vehicles came despite the Congressional laws requiring the need to preserve Israel’s qualitative military superiority over its Arab neighbors.
Delay and review
David Mack, the former US ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, said, “It is likely that the (F-35) aircraft deal will go ahead after a delay and review.”
Ambassador Mac added in an interview with Al Jazeera Net, “The UAE is using its papers well, and has succeeded in establishing a separation distance between it and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with regard to Yemen. The UAE has also strengthened through the normalization of relations with Israel, clean energy initiatives and other developments. Washington”.
However, Ambassador Mac has returned and pointed out that “there are some human rights issues that appear and are of interest to Washington, but they are much less than they are with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. There are many, many American jobs involved in the F-35 deal, and these jobs are Spread in many states. “
The executive director of the Gulf States Analytics Center in Washington, Giorgio Cafiero, describes what the Biden administration did in a routine framework related to the arrival of a new administration to power, as arms sales approved by the previous administration are often subject to review.
In an interview with Al-Jazeera Net, Cafiero indicated that “there is a possibility that this suspension of arms sales to Abu Dhabi and Riyadh is just a temporary halt with the possibility that they will proceed with them at a later time.”
And Cafiero considered that “the main goal is how the Biden administration will ultimately act with regard to selling weapons to Saudi Arabia, and how will this decision affect relations between Washington and Riyadh during Biden’s presidency?”
And he indicated that some experts are skeptical about this and believe that this will be a temporary suspension, “especially after Biden indicated during the presidential campaign that there is a need to review his country’s relationship with Saudi Arabia.
Repair and balance
On the other hand, military expert David De Roche, a former warrior and assistant professor at the Center for the Near East and South Asia at the US National Defense University, told Al Jazeera Net, “The Biden administration’s move to review arms sales to both Saudi Arabia and the UAE can be understood within the framework of reforming the balance of relations between The White House and Congress over the issue of arms sales. “
De Roche pointed out that arms sales negotiations usually take long periods, and Congress intervenes in various stages, considering that what happened was the determination of the White House to ignore the role of Congress in completing the arms deal to Saudi Arabia and the UAE in the late days of President Trump’s rule.
According to him, this has shaken the confidence of Congress in the executive branch of the state, and dozens of members considered it a violation of the agreed upon norms on arms sales, especially the advanced ones.
De Roche asserted that “contracts for the sale of (F-35) aircraft are a very complex matter, and usually involve several contracts, not one, including a design contract, an armament contract, as well as a training contract and a maintenance contract.” To finish the deal before President Trump leaves the White House. “
De Roche ruled out that the review process would have a direct relationship with any special political positions related to Yemen, and he stated to Al Jazeera Net that “there are no (F-35) aircraft in the warehouses of Lockheed Martin that manufactures them, from which the planes are withdrawn for sale to this or that country, and the UAE is at the best. Circumstances will not receive these aircraft before 2027, and the issue is not directly related to the ongoing war in Yemen. “
He added that Washington sets strict conditions on the use of advanced weapons, and it can prohibit the use of these aircraft in a specific conflict or against a specific country if it so chooses.