29 rights groups strongly oppose US weapons sales to UAE
WASHINGTON (US) – As many as 29 arms control and human rights organisations have inked a letter expressing their opposition to the sale of $23 billion worth of missiles, fighter jets and drones to the United Arab Emirates. They have also sought the Congress to block the weapons deal.
“The hope is to stop these sales altogether,” said Seth Binder, advocacy officer at the Project on Middle East Democracy, who is leading the effort to block the deal. “But if that is not possible in the short term, this sends an important signal to the incoming Biden administration that there is a diverse group of organisations that oppose delivery of these weapons.”
Earlier this month, three Senators had proposed legislation to block the arms sale, which includes drones from privately-held General Atomics, Lockheed Martin Corp F-35s and missiles of Raytheon.
According to federal law, senators can force votes on resolutions of disapproval on major arms deals. However, if it has to become effective, resolutions have to be passed by both the Senate and the House of Representatives. It would also require two-third majorities in both the Republican-controlled Senate and Democratic-led House in order to overcome a presidential veto.
The Donald Trump administration officials briefed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about the weapons sale on Monday evening.
A sponsor of the resolutions of disapproval Democratic Senator Chris Murphy tweeted: “Just a mind blowing number of unsettled issues and questions the Administration couldn’t answer. Hard to overstate the danger of rushing this.”
Following an agreement brokered by the US in September, the sale was approved. This came after the UAE agreed to normalise relations with Israel.
According to the letter which was sent to lawmakers and the State Department, the deal would fuel continued harm to civilians and intensify the crises in Yemen and Syria.
Those who signed the letter include human rights bodies from the region, including the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies and Mwatana for Human Rights.
In a statement, the embassy of the UAE said, “Aligned closely with US interests and values, the UAE’s highly capable military is a forceful deterrent to aggression and an effective response to violent extremism.”