The Biden Administration is suspending arms sales to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia — two key Gulf allies that President Donald Trump cultivated as a counter to Iran and as part of building support for peace with Israel.
Axios reported Wednesday (original emphasis):
The Biden administration has put on hold two big arms deals with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates which were approved in the final weeks of the Trump administration, a State Department official tells Axios.
Why it matters: The sales of F-35 jets and attack drones to the UAE and a large supply of munitions to Saudi Arabia will be paused pending a review. That signals a major policy shift from the Trump era, and may herald sharp tensions with both Gulf countries.
The big picture: The F-35 deal came in the context of the U.S.-brokered normalization agreement between the UAE and Israel.
Israel had been the only country in the region to possess the F-35, but dropped its objections to the sale after protracted discussions with the Trump administration.
Biden has signaled an eagerness to return to the Iran nuclear deal. Democrats have also criticized U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia, which is involved in the civil war in Yemen against Iranian-backed Houthi rebels.
Iran hopes to gain control, by proxy, of the Bab el-Mandeb strait, across from U.S. naval forces in Djibouti.
The U.S-brokered peace agreement between Israel and the UAE, known as the Abraham Accords, also opened the door to peace and normalization agreements between Israel and other Arab states.
Saudi Arabia was thought to be among future candidates for a peace agreement, had Trump won re-election.
Biden campaigned on a promise to renew relations with American allies.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His newest e-book is How Not to Be a Sh!thole Country: Lessons from South Africa. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.