May 26, 2019
Arms sales to allies needed to deter Iran, US declares
File pictures of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. “These sales will support our allies, enhance Middle East stability, and help these nations to deter and defend themselves from the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Pompeo said in a statement. Image Credit: AFP
Washington – Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Friday the Trump administration had decided to proceed with arms sales to Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Jordan in a move bypassing Congress because any delay could increase risk for US partners at a time of instability caused by Iran.
“These sales will support our allies, enhance Middle East stability, and help these nations to deter and defend themselves from the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Pompeo said in a statement, adding the decision to circumvent Congress was meant to be a “one-time event.”
President Donald Trump circumvented Congress on Friday by declaring an emergency over Iran and moving forward with arms sales to Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Jordan that had been blocked by Congress since last year.
Trump also announced Friday that he would order about 1,500 additional troops to the Middle East to increase protection of those US forces already there. The new deployment is less than what hardliners in the Trump White House were said to have wanted, and below what commanders in the region were considering.
The deployment is relatively small compared with the about 70,000 American troops now stationed across a region that stretches from Egypt to Afghanistan. In addition, some 600 of the 1,500 “new” troops are already in the Middle East manning Patriot missiles, but will see their deployments extended.
Rear Admiral Michael Gilday, the director of the Joint Staff, on Friday described US intelligence portraying a new Iranian “campaign” that used old tactics, and stretched from Iraq to Yemen to the waters in the Strait of Hormuz, a vital maritime chokepoint for the global oil trade.
“We believe with a high degree of confidence that this stems back to the leadership of Iran at the highest levels and that all of the attacks that I mentioned have been attributed to Iran through their proxies or their forces,” he said.
Gilday accused Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) of being directly responsible for attacks on tankers off the United Arab Emirates earlier this month, in what could be a foreshadowing of the conclusion of ongoing investigations into the incident.
“The attack against the shipping in Fujairah, we attribute it to the IRGC,” Gilday said, explaining that the Pentagon attributed limpet mines used in the attack directly to the IRGC.
He declined to describe “the means of delivery” of the mines, however.