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Biden confirms $23bn arms sales to UAE

US President Joe Biden in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on March 1, 2021 in Washington, DC [Anna Moneymaker-Pool/Getty Images]
US President Joe Biden in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on 1 March 2021 in Washington, DC [Anna Moneymaker-Pool/Getty Images]

US President Joe Biden's administration has confirmed the $23 billion weapons deal with the United Arab Emirates (UAE), including advanced F-35 jets, armed drones, and other weapons, reported Reuters.

A State Department spokesperson said yesterday that the administration would move forward with the proposed sales to the UAE, "even as we continue reviewing details and consulting with Emirati officials" related to the use of the weapons.

The UAE, a close US ally, has long expressed interest in acquiring the stealthy F-35 jets made by Lockheed Martin and was promised a chance to buy them in a side deal when it agreed to normalise ties with Israel last August.

The embassy said the contracts included as many as 50 F-35A fighters valued at $10.4 billion, 18 MQ-9B drones valued at $2.97 billion, and various munitions valued at $10 billion.

OPINION: The Emirati lobby, the biggest spender and the largest Arab one

Last year, the Trump administration helped four Arab nations normalise ties with Israel, starting with the UAE in August, followed by Bahrain, Sudan, and most recently Morocco. In return for those moves, those countries also received guarantees by the US on certain issues, such as the UAE being promised F-25 fighter jets, Sudan being removed from the list of state sponsors of terrorism, and Morocco having its sovereignty over the Western Sahara recognised.

A growing number of countries in the MENA region are normalising ties with Israel - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

A growing number of countries in the MENA region are normalising ties with Israel – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

In late January, Biden temporarily suspended the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia and the UAE so they could be reviewed following long-time calls by activists and rights groups for the US and other nations to cease arms deals with Saudi Arabia due to its poor human rights record, its assassination of dissidents, and its ongoing war in Yemen which began in 2015.

However, the State Department spokesperson said yesterday the estimated delivery dates on the UAE sales, if implemented, were for after 2025.

The government anticipated "a robust and sustained dialogue with the UAE" to ensure a stronger security partnership, the spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

"We will also continue to reinforce with the UAE and all recipients of US defence articles and services that US-origin defense equipment must be adequately secured and used in a manner that respects human rights and fully complies with the laws of armed conflict," the statement added.

READ: Saudi, US arms giant join forces to strengthen kingdom's defences

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