Trump sets $8bn-plus in arms sales to Saudi Arabia and UAE

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In this file photo, Iranian-made missiles are seen next to a portrait of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei at a war exhibition held by Iran's revolutionary guard at Baharestan square near the Iranian Parliament. (Reuters)
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Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks to a group of students in Tehran on May 22, 2019. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP)
Updated 26 May 2019

Trump sets $8bn-plus in arms sales to Saudi Arabia and UAE

  • Pompeo says US partners in Mideast need contracts to be completed to help deter Iran
  • Trump’s administration also announced that it was sending 1,500 additional troops to the Middle East

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump, declaring a national emergency because of tensions with Iran, has swept aside objections from Congress to complete the sale of over $8 billion of weapons to Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Jordan.

The Trump administration informed congressional committees that it will go ahead with 22 military sales to the Saudi Arabia, UAE and Jordan, infuriating lawmakers by circumventing a long-standing precedent for congressional review of major weapons sales.

Members of Congress had been blocking sales of offensive military equipment to Saudi Arabia and the UAE for months.

Several of Trump’s fellow Republicans, as well as Democrats, said they would object to such a plan, fearing that blowing through the “holds” process would eliminate Congress’ ability to check not just Trump but future presidents from selling weapons where they liked.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement that US partners in the Middle East needed the contracts to be completed to help deter Iran, and that the decision to circumvent Congress was meant to be a “one-time event.”

In documents sent to Congress, Pompeo listed a wide range of products and services that would be provided to the countries. These include Raytheon precision-guided munitions (PGMs), support for Boeing Co. F-15 aircraft, and Javelin anti-tank missiles, which are made by Raytheon and Lockheed Martin Corp. 

Iranian malign activity poses a fundamental threat to the stability of the Middle East and to American security at home and abroad. Mike Pompeo

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

Other companies that will benefit include General Electric, now cleared to sell engines for use in F-16 fighter jets operated by the UAE, and the US unit of French firm Thales, which was cleared to sell a fuzing system for Paveway IV precision-guided bombs to Britain and the UAE.

It will also likely be welcome news for Britain’s BAE Systems Plc and Europe’s Airbus, clearing the way for installation of Paveway laser-guided bombs on European-built Eurofighter and Tornado fighter jets sold to Saudi Arabia, as well F-15 fighters built by Boeing.

In his memorandum justifying the emergency declaration, Pompeo listed years of actions by Iran. “Iranian malign activity poses a fundamental threat to the stability of the Middle East and to American security at home and abroad,” he wrote and cited “a number of troubling and escalatory indications and warnings” from Tehran.

Trump’s administration also announced that it was sending 1,500 additional troops to the Middle East, which it described as an effort to bolster defenses against Iran over what it sees as a threat of potential attack.

Members of Congress from both parties have worried that Trump is pushing toward war with Iran. Clarke Cooper, assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs, said the administration was responding to important needs from partners.

“This is about deterrence and it’s not about war,” he told Reuters in a telephone interview.


India expels Pakistan embassy officials for alleged spying

Updated 47 min 51 sec ago

India expels Pakistan embassy officials for alleged spying

  • The pair had to leave the country "within 24 hours" and Pakistan's Charge de Affaires was issued with a "strong protest"
  • India and Pakistan have fought three wars against each other since independence, including two over Kashmir

NEW DELHI: Two officials at the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi were being expelled for "indulging in espionage activities", India's foreign ministry said late Sunday, with tensions already heightened between the nuclear-armed rivals.
The South Asian neighbours have a long-running dispute over Kashmir, which was split between them in 1947 when they gained independence from Britain.
"The government has declared both these officials persona non grata for indulging in activities incompatible with their status as members of a diplomatic mission," the ministry said in a statement.
The pair had to leave the country "within 24 hours" and Pakistan's Charge de Affaires was issued with a "strong protest" over the alleged activities of the pair, the ministry said.
The expulsions came weeks after an Indian national was set to stand trial in Germany, accused of spying on Sikh and Kashmiri communities for New Delhi's secret service.
India and Pakistan have fought three wars against each other since independence, including two over Kashmir.
Kashmir has become a bigger source of tension in the relations between the regional powers after New Delhi last year scrapped the restive Muslim-majority Himalayan region's semi-autonomous status and imposed a curfew to quell unrest.
Rebel groups in Indian-administered Kashmir have battled for decades for the region's independence or its merger with Pakistan and enjoy broad popular support.
The fighting has left tens of thousands dead, mostly civilians, since 1989.
India has more than 500,000 troops stationed in Kashmir.