Weeks before departure, the Trump administration has given the green light to a series of arms sales to several authoritarian regimes in the Middle East. No less than five contracts were approved, Tuesday, December 29, by the Agency for Security and Cooperation in the Defense Field (DSCA): bombs, with associated equipment, for an amount of 236 million euros to Saudi Arabia ; Apache helicopters for 3.3 billion euros in Kuwait; missile defense equipment, for 84 million euros, to Egypt, as well as targeting equipment for aircraft, for 53 million euros.
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These sales ” contribute to improving the security of friendly countries ” which consist of ” an important force for political stability and economic growth in the Middle East Argues the State Department.
Critics of Congress and civil society
In Congress as in American civil society, opponents of these sales denounce the government’s haste. “ Saudi Arabia’s access to tens of thousands of precision-guided munitions has so far not reduced civilian casualties in Yemen Says William Hartung, director of the Weapons and Security program at the Center for International Policy (CIP) in Washington. ” Pentagon claim that more precise bombs will reduce civilian casualties fails at the exam. If Congress does not block this sale, the Biden administration will have to do so when it is in place ”.
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The same criticism applies, according to the researcher, to arms sales to Egypt, engaged in a campaign of counterterrorism in Sinai which he describes as ” brutal and counterproductive ».
In 2019, according to data from Stockholm-based Sipri (International Peace Research Institute), the US arms industry accounted for 61% of sales for the world’s 25 largest producers. China is far behind with 15.7% of the total.
In early December, Democratic senators failed to block the sale of F-35 fighters and armed drones to the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Donald Trump had formalized, at the end of November, one of the biggest arms sales of his mandate: 50 ultra-sophisticated F-35 stealth fighters and 18 MQ-9 “Reaper” killer drones for a total amount of 18 billion dollars. euros.
This transaction, presented as crucial for the US strategy against Iran, was approved by the State Department, after the agreement to normalize their relations signed between the Emirates and Israel. The Emirates had long wanted to acquire these near-undetectable weapons, but Israel opposed it in order to maintain its military technological superiority.
Obstruction of the Pentagon
This wave of arms sales comes as President-elect Joe Biden says his team is not properly briefed by Pentagon politicians on ongoing military operations, as is customary for a new administration in the weeks preceding his entry into office. “ Dozens of written information requests are pending as we speak Jake Sullivan, future national security adviser to Joe Biden, said Tuesday, December 29, in an interview with National Public Radio (NPR).
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« We currently have a lack of visibility on a number of critical issues related to military operations due to obstruction by the Department of Defense, he continued. That means we’re gonna have to take the time, after January 20, to take a critical look at our posture, the threats we face and the continuation of troop withdrawals, depending on the risk to the forces and other considerations ».