Trump to bypass Congress to sell $8.1 billion arms to UAE and Saudi Arabia
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on Friday that the government would bypass Congress to sell $8.1 billion in weapons to Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Jordan to "deter Iranian aggression".
"These sales will support our allies, enhance Middle East stability and help these nations to deter and defend themselves from the Islamic Republic of Iran," Pompeo said in a statement.
The sale will include $7 billion in precision guided munitions, bombs and ammunition and aircraft maintenance support to Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Jordan.
Pompeo added that that an "emergency exists which requires the immediate sale" of the weapons "in order to deter further the malign influence of the government of Iran throughout the Middle East region".
He added that this "must occur as quickly as possible in order to deter further Iranian adventurism in the Gulf and throughout the Middle East".
It comes as the US boosted its military presence in the Middle East with 1,500 troops flying into the region.
The Gulf region has been hit by weeks of tensions after four tankers in the UAE which some have said was a "sabotage attack" by Iran.
Tensions between the US and Iran have reached fever pitch with a war-of-words between the two countries.
The sales are hugely controversial due to Saudi-UAE intervention in the Yemen War, with the two Gulf states accused of committing war crimes in the country.
Hours after Pompeo announced the sale the move was sharply criticised by Congress.
The murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the war in Yemen prompted lawmakers to block about $2 billion in arms sales to the kingdom for more than a year.
Last month, Trump vetoed legislation that would have ended US military assistance for the Saudi-led war in Yemen.
The new move to bypass Congress has seen swift criticism from Democrats.
"I am disappointed, but not surprised, that the Trump administration has failed once again to prioritize our long-term national security interests or stand up for human rights, and instead is granting favours to authoritarian countries like Saudi Arabia," said Robert Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement.
Agencies contributed to this story.