WASHINGTON ( Associated Press) – The United States government on Tuesday approved two massive arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to help defend themselves against Iran.
The more than $5 billion sale of anti-missile systems and related weapons follows President Joe Biden’s trip to the Middle East last month, during which he met with several leaders from the region in Saudi Arabia. In recent months, both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have been the target of rocket attacks by the Houthi rebel movement in Yemen, which is backed by Iran.
While Tuesday’s authorizations are for defensive arms sales, they could be challenged by lawmakers who urged Biden last year to stop selling large amounts of offensive weapons to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates because of their involvement in the war in Yemen. supported the decision.
New sales include $3 billion for Patriot missiles for Saudi Arabia, specifically designed to deter rocket attacks by the Houthis, and $2.2 billion for high-altitude missile defense systems for the United Arab Emirates. Huh.
“The proposed sale will enhance the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s capability to meet current and future threats by replenishing its dwindling arsenal of Patriot JEM-T missiles,” the State Department said in its notice notifying Congress of the sale.
“These missiles are used to defend Saudi Arabia’s borders against frequent cross-border attacks by Houthi unmanned aerial systems and ballistic missiles against civilian sites and critical infrastructure in Saudi Arabia,” the agency said.
For the UAE, the department said the sale “will support the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to enhance the security of an important regional partner. The UAE is an important partner of Washington for political stability and economic progress in the Middle East.” “
Early in his administration, Biden promised to eliminate or reduce arms sales to both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates over their actions in Yemen.