Menendez Demands Investigation into Reports that UAE Illegally Gave US Arms to Libyan Militants

Menendez Demands Investigation into Reports that UAE Illegally Gave US Arms to Libyan Militants

 

WASHINGTON – Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in response to a New York Times report about the United Arab Emirates’ alleged transfer of US-origin Javelin missiles to the insurgent Libyan militia led by Khalifa Haftar. Senator Menendez demanded that the State Department’s Inspector General immediately conduct a full investigation and stated that the State Department may be obligated to terminate all arms sales to the UAE if the allegations prove true.

“If the United Arab Emirates has indeed transferred these weapons, this would appear to be a serious violation of United States law. Such a transfer would also almost certainly be a violation of the UN arms embargo on Libya.” wrote Menendez. “I also note that this is particularly alarming given that you recently tried to bypass Congressional authorization for these specific weapons to the UAE in May through a dubious ‘emergency’ action to counter a supposed Iranian threat,” adding that he would ask the State Department’s Inspector General to investigate Secretary Pompeo’s own actions and knowledge of the UAE’s illicit transfers.

Last month, the Senate approved 22 separate BIPARTISAN joint resolutions of disapproval authored by Menendez to block the Trump Administration’s unprecedented attempt at pushing through over $8 billion in arms sales to Saudi Arabia and UAE based on said false emergency and without Congressional consent. These “emergency” sales included a new sale to the UAE of more Javelin anti-armor shoulder-fired missiles, like those discovered in Libya. The Foreign Relations Committee also approved Menendez’ Saudi Arabia False Emergencies (SAFE) Act, which restricts the circumstances under which the existing emergency authorities in the Arms Export Control Act (AECA) can be used in emergency situations.

The latest reports of the UAE’s illegal diversion of U.S. weapons comes after a CNN expose earlier this year found they had also transferred U.S.-sold Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles to proxy forces in Yemen.

A copy of the Senator’s letter can be found here and below:

Dear Mr. Secretary:

I am writing to express deep concern regarding alarming reports that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) may have transferred US-origin “Javelin” anti-armor missiles to General Haftar and the Libyan National Army (LNA). If the United Arab Emirates has indeed transferred these weapons, this would appear to be a serious violation of United States law. Such a transfer would also almost certainly be a violation of the UN arms embargo on Libya.

I understand that the State Department may have begun an investigation; if not, I demand that a full investigation be done immediately. I also note that this is particularly alarming given that you recently tried to bypass Congressional authorization for these specific weapons to the UAE in May through a dubious “emergency” action to counter a supposed Iranian threat.

As you are surely aware, the United States has invested significant political, diplomatic and assistance resources to support the civilian-led, UN and internationally recognized Government of National Accord. As you are also aware, a number of our partners in the region, including the United Arab Emirates, have actively supported the LNA and General Haftar, who waged an incredibly destabilizing military offensive in April, undermining a fragile stability.

Mr. Secretary, you are surely aware that if these allegations prove true you may be obligated by law to terminate all arms sales to the UAE. 

This is not the first time even this year that the UAE is alleged to have transferred US-origin arms in violation of U.S. law.  In February, a CNN expose found U.S.-sold Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles were illicitly transferred by the UAE to its proxy forces in Yemen – at least one of which may have connections to designated entities. 

The Senate just last week on a bipartisan basis passed 22 of my resolutions to reject the arms sales subject to your mistaken emergency declaration, including those to the UAE.  The Senate Foreign Relations Committee also passed my “Saudi Arabia False Emergencies” (SAFE) Act to restrict your and your successors’ ability to abuse the emergency authorities in the Arms Export Control Act in the future. 

I respectfully ask that you address the following by July 15:

  • Please provide copies of all end-user agreements with the United Arab Emirates
  • Please explain what steps have been implemented to ensure the United Arab Emirates doesn’t unlawfully divert additional weapons to Libya or elsewhere.
  • Please explain why you continue to believe it is in the US interest to sell weapons to the United Arab Emirates given potential diversion to terrorist groups and others and how such continued sales are consistent with the Arms Export Control Act.
  • Please provide an update on your investigation into the United Arab Emirates arms transfers in Yemen.

 I will also be following up to ensure that the Inspector General of the State Department immediately investigate not only the probity of your actions regarding your erroneous use of the AECA’s emergency authorities, but also why U.S. arms are still flowing to the UAE; whether any investigation of the UAE’s alleged illicit transfers is underway and is thorough; and what you and your Department knew about UAE’s illicit transfers when considering and approving such sales.

Sincerely,

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