UAE ambassador to Washington confident stalled F-35 jets sale will go ahead, despite Biden review

UAE ambassador to Washington confident stalled F-35 jets sale will go ahead, despite Biden review
The UAE ambassador to Washington is expecting an arms deal worth $23 billion to proceed as planned, despite a review being undertaken by the Biden administration.
3 min read
02 February, 2021
The UAE is confident that a deal to purchase F-35 fighter jets from the US - as well as other military hardware - will proceed despite a review being implemented by President Joe Biden's administration, according to reports this week.

The UAE ambassador to Washington assured that the purchase of 50 F-35 jets, 18 armed drones, and other defence equipment - worth in the region of $23 billion - will go ahead as planned, according to Reuters

The arms deal, agreed on the final day of former President Donald Trump's term in office, was temporarily paused by the Biden administration, pending a review. 

"We [the UAE] did everything by the book and they will discover that once the review is complete, and it will proceed," said Ambassador Yousef Al-Otaiba at a virtual Washington Institute forum on Monday. 

"Everything is still proceeding while undergoing a review at the same time. I am confident it will end up in the right place.

"If you are going to have less of a presence and less involvement in the Middle East you can’t at the same time take tools away from your partners who are expected to do more," he added.

The deal for military hardware produced by General Atomics, Lockheed Martin Corp and Raytheon Technologies Corp, was included as apart of the Abraham Accords, which normalised relations between Israel and the UAE.

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Justifying the deal at the time, then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the arms would address, the "UAE's need for advanced defence capabilities to deter and defend itself against heightened threats from Iran".

Some US Senators attempted, and failed, to block the deal in December, claiming it was being rushed through without proper assurances that the arms would not fuel further instability in the region.

Read more: Where does Gulf reconciliation leave the UAE?

The Biden administration has been critical of the devastating war in Yemen, which a military coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE has been engaged in since 2015.

Biden has also expressed his desire to resume the US to the dormant nuclear deal with the UAE and Saudi Arabia's regional adversary, Iran.

"I would end US support for the disastrous Saudi-led war in Yemen and order a reassessment of our relationship with Saudi Arabia," Biden said in 2019. 

News of the arms deal review was welcomed by the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT).

"If Biden sticks to his word and ends the arms sales it could be a huge step towards ending the brutal bombardment and blockade [in Yemen]," CAAT said in a statement.

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