Groups are concerned about the UAE’s role in Libya, with Yemen embroiled in an attempt to halt $ 23 billion in arms sales.
Twenty-nine arms control and human rights organizations have signed a lawsuit against the sale of $ 23 billion worth of missiles, warplanes and drones to the United Arab Emirates and have asked the US Congress to block the deal.
“The hope is to stop these sales altogether,” said Seth Binder, a lawyer at Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED), which spearheaded the effort. “But if that is not possible in the short term, it sends an important signal to the incoming Biden administration that there is a group of diverse organizations opposing the distribution of these weapons.”
The Trump administration has officially informed Congress that it plans to sell 50 advanced F-35 fighter jets to the UAE as part of a comprehensive arms deal worth more than $ 23 billion.
Three U.S. senators have proposed legislation to halt the sale, which includes privately owned General Atomics, Lockheed Martin Corp F-35s and Raytheon-made missiles, set up a showdown just weeks before President Donald Trump stepped down.
U.S. law covering major arms deals allows senators to force votes on resolutions they reject. However, the resolutions would have to be approved by the Republican-led Senate if they were to go into effect, which would seldom split with Trump. They must also be approved by the Democratic-led House of Representatives.
A letter to lawmakers and the U.S. State Department said, “Planned arms sales to the UAE, a party to the conflict in Yemen and Libya, will continue to inflict civilian damage and exacerbate these humanitarian crises.”
“The proposed sale would violate long-term provisions of the Foreign Aid Act that prohibit the United States from providing arms and security assistance to perpetrators of gross human rights violations and restrictions on humanitarian assistance,” the letter said.
The letter was signed by local human rights organizations, including the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) and Mawtana for Human Rights. It is also signed by US-based organizations such as Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain.
The UAE embassy in Washington told Reuters in a statement, “The U.S. is committed to its interests and values, as a strong deterrent to the UAE’s highly effective military aggression and an effective response to violent terrorism.”