Euroscope for Middle Eastern Affairs: arms sales to the UAE undermine the stability of the Middle East
Euroscope for Middle Eastern Affairs published a report by the Center for International Politics warning that selling arms to the United Arab Emirates harms American security interests and undermines the stability of the Middle East.
William Hartung, director of the Weapon and Security Program at the Center for International Policy, called for a reconsideration of US President Joe Biden’s administration’s decision to approve a $23 billion package of F-35 fighter jets and MQ-9 armed drones and $10 billion of Bombs and missiles to the Emirates.
Hartung emphasized that the Biden administration’s decision contradicts its commitment to make human rights and the United States long-term.
He stressed that the UAE is an unreliable partner that has fueled the conflict, transferred weapons provided by the United States to extremist groups, and inflicted serious human rights violations on its residents.
Hartung said the UAE’s behavior has done more harm than good in terms of US security interests.
“Whatever pledges the UAE may make regarding its use of American weapons included in the current package, Abu Dhabi’s record does not inspire confidence that it will abide by them,” he added.
Hartung stressed that the UAE’s behavior in the Middle East and North Africa should prevent it from receiving American weapons at this time, and doing otherwise would mean supporting its reckless activities.
He said, “Failure to hold the UAE accountable for its current and past misdeeds will send a horrific signal to other authoritarian regimes that this type of behavior is acceptable to the United States, which increases the chances of its continuation, at the expense of American and global security.”
He stated that despite claims to the contrary, the UAE continues to play a role in the brutal war in Yemen, which has killed nearly a quarter of a million people and pushed millions to the brink of starvation, even as more space is created for extremist groups like Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula to operate.
It indicated that the UAE has been involved in transferring US arms, including armored vehicles, to extremist militias in Yemen, some of which have ties to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
“In addition, the United Arab Emirates is the main supplier of weapons to General Khalifa Haftar’s forces in Libya, and it has participated in drone strikes that have killed civilians, all of which is in violation of the arms embargo imposed by the United Nations,” he added.
Hartung warned that there is also evidence indicating that it funded the Wagner Group, a group of Russian-backed mercenaries fighting in Yemen.
The international researcher warned that the weapons in the $23 billion package for the UAE are more likely to be used in wars like those in Libya and Yemen than to deter or fight Tehran, which is the rationale that was presented to move forward with the deals.
“The United Arab Emirates has security relations with Russia and China and has purchased Russian missile defense systems, which increases the risk of sensitive American technology that is provided to these two countries,” he said.
“The UAE’s purchases of weapons from Russia could expose it to sanctions under the Anti-American Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), which, if implemented, could prevent it from receiving advanced American weapons.”
Hartung warned that the sale of F-35s to the UAE may open the door to selling these aircraft to other Gulf countries, which would lead to an arms race in the region and threaten the qualitative military advantage of Israel over other countries in the Middle East.
According to Hartung, contrary to the allegations that major American jobs have benefited from the transfer of weapons to the UAE, the sales are likely to include the transfer of US technology and jobs to United Abu Dhabi through compensation agreements with American companies.
He noted that Congress has expressed doubts about the wisdom of selling arms to the UAE.
He highlighted that the Biden administration’s statement regarding UAE sales does not necessarily represent a final decision.
Before moving forward with the deal, the administration promised to set conditions on how the weapons would be secured and used, including pledges to observe basic human rights standards and the laws of war.
Given past behavior, the UAE is unlikely to faithfully adhere to these conditions. The best course – for human rights and US security – is to derail the deal and demand the UAE to fully withdraw from the conflicts in Yemen and Libya and end its crackdown on domestic critics and dissidents abroad.
If the administration fails to reverse course, Congress must act to end these dangerous sales before they fuel further conflict and repression in the Middle East and North Africa.