On Arms Sales to Dictators and the Yemen War, Progressives see change in Biden

Biden has taken a tough stance against longtime U.S. allies Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Progressives are keen to hold him to his promises.

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The Intercept: THE DEFENSE INDUSTRY celebrated Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election, with contractors saying they expected their companies to continue flourishing under his administration as they have under Donald Trump.

But while Biden is no peacenik — waging wars has long been an area of bipartisan consensus in Washington —  he has already signaled that he’ll take a radically different approach from Trump — particularly when it comes to making overseas arms sales.

Foreign policy was not a top campaign issue during the presidential election, especially as the news cycle was dominated by the health and economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic, nationwide demonstrations against police brutality and racial injustice, and Trump’s efforts to sow doubt in the legitimacy of U.S. voting systems.

But within a week of the election, Trump pushed through a $23 billion weapons deal with the United Arab Emirates. It was the latest manifestation of Trump’s cozy relationships with Gulf dictatorships that have become anathema to U.S. progressives.

President Donald Trump shows a chart highlighting arms sales to Saudi Arabia during a meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C., on March 20, 2018.

Photo: Evan Vucci/AP

Biden, meanwhile, ran on ending U.S. support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen, a position that gained bipartisan support in Congress because of the efforts of progressive activists and lawmakers — until Trump vetoed a 2019 resolution that would have accomplished that goal.

The former vice president said last month that his administration would “reassess” the U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia, which he called a “pariah” during a primary debate last year. He has also said the U.S. would not sell more weapons to the country, deviating from the position taken by his former boss, Barack Obama.

Biden has also expressed opposition to the Trump administration’s security assistance to Azerbaijan, which signed a peace deal with Armenia last week after a decades long conflict broke into clashes in late September.  read more…



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