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Dozens of rights groups point’s finger at the US arms sales to UAE

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WASHINGTON, 1 December 2020, (TON):  Several Groups raised their concern about the UAE’s role in Libya, Yemen conflicts in attempt to halt $23bn in arms sales.

Twenty-nine arms control and human rights organisations have signed a letter opposing the sale of $23bn worth of missiles, fighter jets and drones to the United Arab Emirates and asking US Congress to block the deal.

“The hope is to stop these sales altogether,” said Seth Binder, advocacy officer at the Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED), who spearheaded the effort. “But if that is not possible in the short term, this sends an important signal to the incoming Biden administration that there is a diverse group of organizations that oppose delivery of these weapons.”

The White House notified Congress of the sale of 50 F-35 fighter jets to the UAE as part of a broader arms deal worth more than $23bn that lead to concerns among congressional Democrats.

Three US senators proposed legislation to halt the sale, which also includes drones from privately held General Atomics, Lockheed Martin Corp F-35s and missiles made by Raytheon, setting up a showdown with President Donald Trump just weeks before he is due to leave office.

The letter, which will be sent to legislators and the US State Department, said, “The planned arms sales to the UAE, a party to the conflicts in Yemen and Libya, would fuel continued civilian harm and further exacerbate these humanitarian crises.”

“The proposed sales violate long-standing provisions in the Foreign Assistance Act,” the letter said.

The UAE embassy in Washington told Reuters News Agency in a statement, “Aligned closely with US interests and values, the UAE’s highly capable military is a forceful deterrent to aggression and an effective response to violent extremism.”

A sale to UAE will take years to close and then only with sustained congressional approval as the deal has stirred controversy. US law covering major arms deals allows senators to force votes on resolutions of disapproval. However, to go into effect the resolutions must pass the Republican-led Senate, which rarely breaks with Trump. They also must pass the Democratic-led House of Representatives.

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