The Biden administration has reportedly temporarily frozen U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the sale of F-35 fighter jets to the United Arab Emirates as it reviews billions of dollars in weapons transactions approved by the Trump administration.
According to the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg, citing U.S. officials, the United States is specifically reviewing the sale of Lockheed Martin F-35 jets to the UAE and munitions to Saudi Arabia.
UAE Ambassador to the U.S. Yousef Al Otaiba also sought to reassure, saying in response that his country would work closely with the Biden administration on Middle East peace and stability, noting “the UAE anticipated a review of current policies.”
“The F-35 package is much more than selling military hardware to a partner,” he added.
The UAE has long expressed interest in acquiring the F-35 jets and was promised a chance to buy them in a side deal when it agreed to normalize ties with Israel last August. The sale has also brought into question whether it would jeopardize Israel’s military qualitative edge in the region.
Biden, harder on Saudi Arabia
During the presidential campaign, candidate Joe Biden called Saudi Arabia a “pariah,” broadly promising to confront the Kingdom on its human rights record and end U.S. support for the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen. Blinken echoed that promise in his confirmation hearing, calling Yemen “the worst humanitarian situation in the world.”
“We have real concerns [about] the policies that our Saudi partners have pursued and, accordingly, the president-elect has said we will review the entirety of the relationship to make sure that, as it stands, it is advancing the interests [and is] respectful of the values that we bring to that partnership,” Blinken said.