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More Bombs for Yemen: US Agrees to Sell New Load of Missiles to UAE

CC BY 2.0 / US Missile Defense Agency / A Patriot Advanced Capability 3 (PAC-3) interceptor is launched from Omelek Island during MDA's historic integrated flight test on Oct. 24, 2012.
A Patriot Advanced Capability 3 (PAC-3) interceptor is launched from Omelek Island during MDA's historic integrated flight test on Oct. 24, 2012. - Sputnik International
The US State Department has approved the possible sale of US$2 billion worth of missiles to the United Arab Emirates, an active member of the Saudi-led military coalition against Yemen, says the Pentagon.

The sale includes 60 Patriot missiles and 100 Patriot guided enhanced missiles, as well as other military equipment, the US Department of Defense said in a statement.

"This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by improving the security of an important ally which has been, and continued to be, a force for political stability and economic progress in the Middle East," said the statement.

There are of course, those who might disagree, considering the UAE's role in the civil war in Yemen. Approximately seven million Yemenis are faced with famine as a result of the conflict, but also the ongoing naval blockades imposed by Saudi Arabia and the UAE. So far, the conflict is said to have taken over 12,000 civilian lives, and decimated much of the country's infrastructure and services, including schools, factories and hospitals. 

In this Monday, April 20, 2015, file photo, Saudi soldiers fire artillery toward three armed vehicles approaching the Saudi border with Yemen in Jazan, Saudi Arabia. - Sputnik International
US Must Cease Weapons Sales to Saudi Arabia for Yemen Operations - Senator Paul

The United States often comes under fire for its sales of arms to parties embedded in the military campaign in Yemen instigated by Saudi Arabia to reinstate its ally and former president, Abd Rubbuh Mansur Hadi. 

Back in February at an arms exhibition in Abu Dhabi, the UAE also secured arms deals worth just over US$5 billion, which included a US$740-million deal with US arms giant, Raytheon. The UAE has constituted the US' second largest arms export marker from 2012 to 2016, coming in just behind Saudi Arabia.

International human rights groups have continued to decry the seemingly indiscriminate targeting practices of those states that make up the Saudi-led coalition. In 2015, a missile strike from the Saudi-UEA-led coalition on a wedding party killed 131 people. In the United States, congressmen and senators such as the renowned Ted Lieu and Edward Markey pressured the Obama administration into placing strict regulations on the types of weaponry sold to Gulf states in response to the rising civilian death toll in Yemen.

In December 2016, the Obama administration decided to act in its final moments and banned precision-guided munitions to Saudi Arabia. The ban was however, overturned by President Trump soon after he took office. 

While purported security threats posed to the Gulf states by the Houthi rebels in Yemen are cited by the US as a reason for continuing arms sales, it appears that there is another, and more tacit, shared concern: the Gulf states and the US continue to see Iran as a major regional threat. The Trump administration has continued to brand Iran as the "world's biggest sponsor of state terrorism," and a threat to US national security.

The Pentagon building in Washington, DC - Sputnik International
Pentagon Chief Calls Iran 'Single Biggest State Sponsor of Terrorism'

The US' position has been a boon for the Gulf states, who see Iran as an aspiring regional hegemon, particularly concerned about its ostensible nuclear program. Analysts point to Gulf states' costly purchasing of US weapons, and the recent announcement of the establishment of a "Muslim NATO," as measures born out of anxiety over expanding Iranian regional influence.

The Pentagon's statement over the recent arms deal with the UEA also says that, "these missiles will not alter the basic military balance in the region." However considering the shared position between the US and the Gulf states on Iran, its hard to believe that this is not the intention.

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