US senators seek to stop sale of advanced jets to UAE

US senators seek to stop sale of advanced jets to UAE”

Many lawmakers fear that it may alter the balance of power in the Middle East; there are also concerns that the UAE sales would violate a longstanding agreement with Israel that any United States weapons sold in the Middle East would not impair its "quantitative military edge" over neighboring countries.

When the deal was announced, Amnesty International warned that the weapons would be used for "attacks that violate international humanitarian law and kill, as well as injure, thousands of Yemeni civilians".

The sale includes products from General Atomics, Lockheed Martin Corp. and Raytheon.

While the resolutions bring attention to lawmakers' questions about the massive sales, and could delay them, they are unlikely to stop them. A Reuters report says: "The US law covering major arms deals lets senators force votes on resolutions of disapproval".

Senators accuse the Trump administration of violating the standard of arms sales to foreign countries, including a congressional review period. However, to go into effect the resolutions must pass the Republican-led Senate, which rarely breaks from Trump.

Murphy was also concerned with the UAE's "behaviour" in the region, according to a joint statement he and Menendez released on Wednesday.

But even if the three senators, who are both Democrats and Republicans, are able to rally a simple majority in Congress to thwart this $23 billion deal that also includes drones and ammunition, President Trump could use his veto to impose his will, something he has already done in similar cases. President-Elect Joe Biden's top foreign policy adviser, Anthony Blinken, said told reporters in late October that the deal is, "something we would look at very, very carefully, and make sure that the QME is preserved and also very important that Congress play a role".

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The senators said the Trump administration, seeking to rush the sale as it brokered a peace deal between the UAE and Israel, circumvented the normal review process.

He highlighted how United States national security officials have not explained how they "would deal with specific national security risks inherent in the proposed sale", which would include 50 stealthy F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, 18 MQ-9B Reaper drones and a variety of munitions.

Democratic US Senator Chris Murphy of CT at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, July 25, 2018.

Congress past year tried to block a major arms package for Saudi Arabia and the UAE but failed to muster the two-thirds majority to override Trump's vetoes.

Sens. Robert Menendez, New Jersey Democrat and Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; Chris Murphy, Connecticut Democrat; and Rand Paul, Kentucky Republican, on Wednesday introduced four separate resolutions of disapproval rejecting the weapons sale.

Pompeo, in his announcement of the F-35 deal, said it recognized UAE's need to defend itself from Iran and that it was consistent with America's commitment to ensuring Israel's "qualitative military edge" ― a USA legal standard that Israel maintain a military technological advantage over its neighbors.

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