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Trump Bypasses Congress to Sell Weapons to Saudi Arabia

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On Friday, the Trump administration bypassed Congress to fast track billions of dollars in arms sales to Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern allies.

This move drew heavy criticism from both sides of the political aisle.

The Trump administration invoked an obscure provision of arms control law to declare a national security emergency that would allow this sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Jordan to go through without Congress’s approval.

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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated in a letter to Senator James Risch, the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, “I have determined that an emergency exists which requires the proposed sale in the national security interest of the United States, and, thus, waives the congressional review requirements.”

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According to congressional aid and other reports, the arms packages sent to the Middle East are worth roughly $8 billion and consist of precision-guided bombs and other equipment to countries like Saudi Arabia and the UAE. These two countries are allies of the U.S., who support current policy on Iran and support the Yemeni government’s efforts to put down the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels.

This conflict has drawn significant criticism from both sides of the aisle and even resulted in the successful passage of a resolution that would have ended the Yemeni conflict. In the end, the Trump administration ended up vetoing this resolution.

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HISTORIC: President Trump Brokers Two-State Solution Between Israel and Palestine

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On August 13, 2020, Israel and the United Arb Emirates announced that they will normalize diplomatic relations and establish new broad-based ties.

This represents a pivotal moment in Middle Eastern politics, as the hot-button political issues shift from the issue of Palestine to Iran. The Trump administration helped broker this deal.

Under this new agreement, Israel has nominally agreed to stop its plans to annex the areas of the occupied West Bank. This agreement also solidifies opposition to Iran, which has become stronger ever since the U.S. launched its disastrous invasion of Iraq in 2003. At the moment, the U.S. views Iran as the principal threat in the Middle East.

Israel previously signed peace agreements with Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994. Up to this moment, the UAE and most other Arab countries did not maintain formal diplomatic or economic relations with the country until now. In normalizing relations with Israel, the UAE became the first Gulf Arab country to reach such an agreement with the Jewish state.

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According to White House officials, the agreement was the result of extended discussions between Israel, the UAE, and the U.S.

In a joint statement featuring President Donald Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed, they declared that they had “agreed to the full normalisation of relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.”

“This historic diplomatic breakthrough will advance peace in the Middle East region and is a testament to the bold diplomacy and vision of the three leaders and the courage of the United Arab Emirates and Israel to chart a new path that will unlock the great potential in the region,” the statement read.

Reuters reported that in another statement, the crown prince highlighted that the agreement would prevent further Israeli annexation of Palestinian land, which Israel claims to have been waiting for U.S. approval.

The agreement is known as the Abraham Accords. It provides Trump a foreign policy accomplishment as he pursues re-election in November.

“HUGE breakthrough today! Historic Peace Agreement between our two GREAT friends, Israel and the United Arab Emirates,” Trump Tweeted.

In a separate tweet, Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor, announced that the Trump administration was able to get Israel to agree with Palestinian people on a two-state solution.

The White House’s Twitter account announced this development:

President @realDonaldTrump was able to get Israel to agree to a two-state solution with the Palestinian people—and, for the first time in history, agree to a map that outlined the territory.

The Trump administration revealed that deals similar to the UAE and Israeli agreement are being crafted by Israel and other Arab states.

This marks a change in strategy from the nation-building of the Obama and Bush administrations, which largely benefited the defense industry, and relied upon misguided hard power instead of smart diplomacy to settle disputes.

Time will tell if such policies will last.

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