On Wednesday, which happens to be Holocaust Remembrance Day, the Joe Biden administration gave a big gift to Iran, which officially denies the Holocaust.
Yes, Biden released a statement remembering the Holocaust and urging Americans to do what they can to avoid repeating it. However, on the same day, his administration froze arms sales to two of Iran’s regional foes.
The Biden administration imposed a temporary freeze on U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia and is investigating arms the Trump administration sold to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), The Wall Street Journal reported. The review includes the sale of precision-guided munitions to Riyadh, as well sales of F-35 fighters to Abu Dhabi, a deal Trump approved as part of the Abraham Accords.
Yes, the Biden Administration undermined Trump’s historic Middle East peace deal, in which the UAE formalized diplomatic relations with Israel, a historic deal that sidelined the Islamic Republic of Iran, on Holocaust Remembrance Day.
U.S. officials insisted that new administrations usually review arms sales approved by the previous administration and that despite the pause, many of the transactions will ultimately go forward.
In fact, the UAE Embassy in Washington, D.C., noted, “As in previous administrations, the UAE anticipated a review of current policies by the new administration.”
Yet Secretary of State Anthony Blinken did explain that the Biden administration has one long-term goal regarding restrictions on arms sales to Saudi Arabia. Biden has pledged to prevent the Saudis from using American weapons in the civil war in Yemen.
The president “has made clear that we will end our support for the military campaign led by Saudi Arabia in Yemen, and I think we will work on that in very short order,” Blinken said at his confirmation hearing last week. Washington will continue to help defend the Saudis against Houthi attacks, however.
The Biden administration has frozen the sales to Saudi Arabia pending review, but the sales to the Emirates have not been frozen while the administration examines them. The $23 billion arms package for the UAE includes some items like jet fighters and drones that would not be delivered for many years, in some cases.
This review makes sense, given the change of administrations. Yet the timing seems rather odd. Why freeze arms sales to one of Iran’s key rivals in the region on Holocaust Remembrance Day?
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.