The news came after HuffPost reported that a group of top Democrats in the House of Representatives were urging Biden to reassess U.S.-Saudi ties.
President Joe Biden has paused billions of dollars in weapons shipments to Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates, U.S. wealthy partners in the Persian Gulf whose human rights abuses have caused growing alarm in Washington, Bloomberg, the Wall Street Journal and The Associated Press reported on Wednesday, citing U.S. officials.
Former President Donald Trump repeatedly pushed through major arms deals with the Saudis and Emiratis over objections from Congress. Now, Biden could entirely block two of Trump’s parting gifts to the two autocratic Arab regimes: a $500 million package of bombs for the Saudis and a $23 billion package for the Emiratis that included the F-35, America’s most advanced fighter jet.
The news came soon after HuffPost reported that Democratic leaders in the House of Representatives were pushing Biden to take steps to hold Saudi Arabia accountable for its excesses.
HuffPost obtained a draft of a letter that House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.), House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.), House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) and other prominent lawmakers addressed to Biden’s Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Co-led by former State Department human rights official Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-N.J.), the group requested “a meaningful adjustment in the U.S.-Saudi relationship.”
The combined revelations show a striking consensus on U.S. policy toward autocratic Gulf Arab states in the new Democratic-controlled Washington.
A State Department spokesperson declined to specifically comment on the Saudi and Emirati sales but told HuffPost via email that the action “demonstrates the Administration’s commitment to transparency and good governance, as well as ensuring U.S. arms sales meet our strategic objectives of building stronger, interoperable, and more capable security partners.”