UAE Arms Sale Targeted in Suit Seeking to Block $23 Billion Deal

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U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo was sued by an independent New York policy research group seeking to block the Trump administration’s $23 billion arms sale to the United Arab Emirates.

Pompeo, who oversees the State Department’s authorization of government-to-government arms sales, “rushed” the deal without proper oversight or justification, the New York Center For Foreign Policy Affairs said in a complaint in federal court in Washington.

The nonprofit seeks a court order forcing Pompeo and the State Department to rescind the transaction because the allegedly inadequate approval process violated the Administrative Procedure Act. The Senate this month failed to block the sale, despite objections to a package of F-35 fighter jets and drones as part of a broader Middle East peace deal.

In approving the deal, Pompeo said the weapons would address “UAE’s need for advanced defense capabilities to deter and defend itself against heightened threats from Iran,” and that the “sale will make the UAE even more capable and interoperable with U.S. partners,” according to the complaint.

“More is required under the law,” the group said, adding that approval can only be granted if a deal “will strengthen the security of the United States and promote world peace,” as required by the Arms Export Control Act.

“The department failed to provide a reasoned explanation for its rushed sale of sensitive weapons systems to the UAE, nor can one infer that it has one, given the available evidence,” according to the complaint. “Indeed, widespread and publicly available evidence suggests that the weapons being sold will be used in direct contravention of world peace and U.S. security, as well as prior U.S. policy.”

The State Department’s press office didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

The case is New York Center For Foreign Policy Affairs v. U.S. Department of State, 1:20-cv-03847, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).

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