Washington (US), April 14: The Biden administration intends to go through with a defense arms sale to the United Arab Emirates soon, a State Department spokesperson said in a statement. The Trump-era weapons sale was put on hold by the Biden administration for a review.
"While we will not comment on ongoing litigation, we can confirm that that the Administration intends to move forward with these proposed defense sales to the UAE, even as we continue reviewing details and consulting with Emirati officials to ensure we have developed mutual understandings with respect to Emirati obligations before, during, and after delivery," the spokesperson said as quoted by The Huffington Post.
In January, Washington put a pause on sales of F-35 fighter jets to the UAE and munitions to Saudi Arabia pending a review of major Trump-era arms deals. Later, US President Joe Biden reversed the decision of his predecessor made one day before leaving the office and restored a 10-percent duty on aluminum imports from the UAE introduced back in 2018. Thus, Trump's decision to levy the duties, which was due to enter into force on Wednesday, was not fulfilled, and the tariff regime remained the same.
It has been widely speculated that the former US administration used the F-35 aircraft to entice the Emirates to normalize ties with Israel. In September, two Gulf nations - the UAE and Bahrain - signed the landmark, Trump-brokered Abraham Accords to establish diplomatic ties with the Jewish state. The agreement was met with harsh criticism in Palestine.
UAE officials have, however, said that the rapprochement with Israel was motivated purely by the desire to prevent "annexation", referring to Benjamin Netanyahu's plans to "apply sovereignty'" to large portions of Palestinian territory in the West Bank. UAE ambassador to the US, Yousef al-Otaiba, also called Biden's freeze an "absolutely pro-forma, routine, ticking-the-box exercise because they just inherited, literally right before they took office, one of the largest arms deals in the world - one worth $23 billion."
According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), arms imports to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) fell by 37 percent, however, contracts signed with the United States in 2020 to import 50 F-35 combat aircraft suggest that the UAE will continue to import large volumes of arms.