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Wednesday, February 8, 2017
Trump to approve weapons packages to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain blocked by Obama
The Trump administration is poised to move quickly to approve major weapons packages for Saudi Arabia and Bahrain that President Obama blocked during his final months in office over human rights concerns in both nations, U.S. officials and congressional sources say.
While the White House declined to discuss its plans, one U.S. official directly involved in the transfers told The Washington Times that a roughly $300 million precision-guided missile technology package for Riyadh and a multibillion-dollar F-16 deal for Bahrain are now in the pipeline ready for clearance from the new administration.
The deals, if approved, would send a significant signal about the priorities of the new administration, where the security challenge posed by forces such as Islamist jihadi groups and Iran is taking a much greater precedence in setting foreign policy.
“These are significant sales for key allies in the Gulf who are facing the threat from Iran and who can contribute to the fight against the Islamic State,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “Whereas the Obama administration held back on these, they’re now in the new administration’s court for a decision — and I would anticipate the decision will be to move forward.”
The Pentagon also declined to comment. But congressional sources said they anticipate the Trump administration will easily overcome resistance on Capitol Hill, where Democrats and some Republicans have called for restrictions on sales to Riyadh amid an outcry from human rights groups over large-scale civilian casualties of the Saudi-led military campaign in neighboring Yemen. READ MORE