Arms Sales in the Middle East: Trends and Analytical Perspectives for U.S. Policy

Arms Sales in the Middle East: Trends and
Analytical Perspectives for U.S. Policy

Updated November 23, 2020
Congressional Research Service

Arms Sales in the Middle East: Trends and Analytical Perspectives for U.S. Policy

This report analyzes state-to-state arms sales in the Middle East with a particular focus on U.S.
transfers, as authorized and reviewed by Congress. Arms sales historically have been one
important means for Congress to influence U.S. foreign policy toward the Middle East. The
information in this report, including sales data, is drawn from a number of official and unofficial
open sources.
Arms sales are an important tool that states can use to exercise their influence. The Middle East
has long been a key driver of the global trade in weapons, to a disproportionate degree relative to
its population. Some states in this heavily militarized and contested region are major arms
purchasers, empowered by partnerships with outside supporters and wealth derived from vast
energy reserves. Others have relied on grants and loans from the United States and other partners
to supplement their more modest resources to meet defense goals. In part due to external
relationships but in some cases increasingly independently, some Middle Eastern countries have
developed military industrial bases that supply some of their own defense needs and/or generate
profits through arms exports.
The United States is the single greatest arms supplier to the Middle East by volume and value,
and has been for decades. However, other major producers like Russia, France, and China are also
key players in the region, and their transfers of some sophisticated but smaller volume and value
items, such as armed unmanned aerial vehicles and air defense systems, may have outsized
effects on regional security. These countries’ respective strategies and goals for arms sales appear
to differ in some ways.
This report considers a number of fundamental questions related to U.S. arms sales to the region,
namely whether such sales have contributed to or achieved stated U.S. policy aims, including
fostering greater intra-regional security and cooperation. The report then explores in greater depth
arms sales, primarily from the United States, to six Middle Eastern states: Egypt, Iraq, Israel,
Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). These states, some of the region’s
largest arms purchasers, have taken a range of approaches to pursuing influence and security in an
unstable region. Some appear to be increasing their commitment to the United States as their
primary security guarantor even as they may be interested both in building up their own domestic
arms production capabilities and in seeking out alternative suppliers. When considering domestic
or non-U.S. procurement, these states may focus on indications of U.S. military or political
commitment to the region and/or U.S. willingness to share technology relative to other potential
This report concludes by considering a number of arms sales-related issues of congressional
interest. Both the executive and legislative branches have constitutional prerogatives regarding
U.S. arms sales, and congressional action related to arms sales has influenced U.S. policy in the
Middle East. Congress requires the executive branch to ensure that sales to regional states not
adversely affect Israel’s military advantage over its neighbors (or qualitative military edge,
QME), and arms transfer policy has figured prominently in debates over several countries and
crises, such as the Saudi-led coalition’s military efforts in Yemen since 2015. Congress also
continues to consider arms sales in the context of broader policy issues, such as human rights.
The report discusses a number of options available to Members of Congress to influence arms
sales to the region, including those related to oversight, reporting requirements, checks on
executive action, and conditions on transfers or funding.
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Introduction ..................................................................................................................................... 1
The Demand for Arms in the Middle East ................................................................................ 1
Overview of Major Outside Suppliers ...................................................................................... 2
Debates over Arms Sales and U.S. Policy in the Middle East .................................................. 3
Have Arms Sales to the Middle East Achieved Their Intended Objectives? ...................... 4
What are Potential Negative Consequences of Arms Sales? .............................................. 9
Impact on U.S. Domestic Industry .................................................................................... 10
History of Congress and Arms Sales in the Middle East ........................................................ 12
Select Country Profiles .................................................................................................................. 14
Egypt ................................................................................................................................. 14
Iraq .................................................................................................................................... 16
Israel.................................................................................................................................. 19
Qatar.................................................................................................................................. 20
Saudi Arabia ...................................................................................................................... 22
UAE .................................................................................................................................. 24
U.S. Policy and Potential Issues for Congress............................................................................... 26
Congressional Oversight: May 2019 Emergency Arms Sales ................................................. 26
Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge (QME) .............................................................................. 30
Saudi-led Coalition Operations in Yemen and Civilian Casualties ......................................... 32
Questions Regarding Use of U.S. Arms ............................................................................ 33
End-Use Monitoring (EUM) ................................................................................................... 34
Possible Illegal Transfer of U.S. Weaponry in Yemen ...................................................... 35
Providing Weaponry to Governments Suspected of Human Rights Violations ...................... 37
CAATSA: Possible Sanctions on Purchasers of Russian Weapons ......................................... 39
Outlook .................................................................................................................................... 41

Figure 1. Arms Deliveries to the Middle East: Value, by Selected Supplier, 1950-2019 ................ 3
Figure 2. Arms Suppliers to the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) ....................................... 7
Figure 3. Arms Suppliers to Egypt ................................................................................................ 15
Figure 4. Arms Suppliers to Iraq ................................................................................................... 17
Figure 5. Arms Suppliers to Israel ................................................................................................. 19
Figure 6. Arms Suppliers to Qatar ................................................................................................. 21
Figure 7. Arms Suppliers to Saudi Arabia ..................................................................................... 23
Figure 8. Arms Suppliers to UAE .................................................................................................. 25

Figure A-1. U.S. Arms Sales to the Middle East ........................................................................... 43
Figure D-1. Proposed U.S. Arms Sales to Select Countries .......................................................... 50
Figure E-1. Total Foreign Military Financing to MENA vs. Global, 1950-2017 .......................... 51

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Table A-1. U.S. Arms Sales to the Middle East ............................................................................. 43

Appendix A. Historical U.S. Arms Sales to the Middle East ........................................................ 43
Appendix B. Selected Resolutions Disapproving of Arms Sales to the Middle East .................... 45
Appendix C. Selected DSCA Major Arms Sales Notifications to Middle East, 2010-
Present ........................................................................................................................................ 47
Appendix D. Total Proposed U.S. Arms Sales to Selected Countries by Year .............................. 50
Appendix E. Historical Foreign Military Financing (FMF) .......................................................... 51
Appendix F. Past Presidential Usage of Emergency Authorities: Five Case Studies .................... 52

Author Information ........................................................................................................................ 60

Congressional Research Service

Arms Sales in the Middle East: Trends and Analytical Perspectives for U.S. Policy

This report provides an overview of U.S. arms sales to the Middle East.1 The report includes
 brief information on U.S. arms sales to the region since the end of the Cold War;
 data on current arms sales by country, with in-depth material on several specific
countries, as they relate to regional and global geopolitical developments; and
 analysis of how arms sales shape and reflect U.S. policy in the region in light of
actions by Congress and the executive branch.
The data in this report is based on a combination of official and unofficial open-source data
sources, including from the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) and the Stockholm
International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).2
The Demand for Arms in the Middle East
The Middle East is one of the most heavily armed regions in the world, featuring numerous
conflicts or standoffs that involve many states in the region. Israeli leaders, pointing to a series of
perceived threats, assert a continued need to maintain a large and technologically advanced
military. Iran is seen as a threat not just by the United States and Israel, but by nearly every one of
its neighbors in the Persian Gulf (the Gulf); Iran in turn views the United States, Israel, and others
as foes. Ongoing conflicts and instability in places like Yemen, Syria, and Libya demonstrate the
extent to which outside states seek to influence outcomes using their own military forces and
arms transfers to local partners.
Several additional factors have created an enormous demand for arms in the region. Several
countries face transnational terrorist threats and, in some cases, domestic insurgencies. In
addition, some states have large, well-equipped militaries that can influence national arms sales
decisions by virtue of the prominent role they often play in domestic and foreign policy.
Advances in military technology and capabilities have made some legacy systems obsolete,
creating a need for new acquisitions. Some have argued that the importance Middle Eastern
governments evidently ascribe to large weapons purchases stems from the role arms may play in
building international credibility, as well as national pride and identity. These are strong
incentives in a region where political legitimacy is widely contested and where some states
became independent in the early 1970s.3 An increasingly competitive and unstable global
environment also may be a factor, as regional states seek to diversify their arms providers.
By almost every measure, the Middle East is a–if not the–major participating region in the global
arms trade. Sales data show that the Middle East accounted for an estimated 35% of global arms

1 This report uses the terms arms trade, arms sales, and arms transfers interchangeably to refer to the buying and
selling of conventional weapons between states; this report does not consider the black market in arms. In this report,
the Middle East refers to all countries for which the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs has
responsibility in the U.S. government.
2 For more on the long-standing debate over the use of these various sources, and their respective strengths and
weaknesses, see Sen. John McCain, “The Need for Improved Analysis of Conventional Arms Transfers,”
Congressional Record, vol. 139 (April 28, 1993), pp. S8484-S8488.
3 See, for example, Emma Soubrier, “Mirages of Power? From Sparkly Appearance to Empowered Apparatus,
Evolving Trends and Implications of Arms Trade in Qatar and UAE,” in The Arms Trade, Military Services and the
Security Market in the Gulf States: Trends and Implications
, David Des Roches and Dania Thafer, eds., Gerlach Press,
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imports from 2015 to 2019.4 According to these data, between 2000 and 2019, the U.S. has
supplied nearly 45% of the arms imported by Middle Eastern states, far outpacing those from the
next largest suppliers (Russia and France supplied 19.3% and 11.4% of the Middle East’s arms
imports, respectively).5 Recent sales follow established patterns: the Middle East has historically
been of particular importance for the United States as an arms market. U.S. arms sales data shows
that between 1950 and 2017, the Middle East accounted for over $379 billion in U.S. Foreign
Military Sales (FMS) agreements (in current, non-inflation adjusted dollars), representing 51.5%
of FMS agreements worldwide, and over $234 billion in FMS deliveries, representing 45.8% of
FMS deliveries worldwide.6
Overview of Major Outside Suppliers
A small number of actors provide most of the external supply of weapons to the Middle East. By
every measure, the United States has been the single largest seller of arms to the region for over
two decades (before which it contended with the Soviet Union for supremacy in this regard; see
Figure 1). This reflects both the technological superiority of U.S. arms as well as the active U.S.
role in the region. At present, the United States appears to be trying to maintain regional influence
amid conflicting domestic and foreign policy imperatives, namely some public desire for an end
to U.S. military engagements in the region and demands for U.S. attention and military
engagement elsewhere. Many Middle Eastern states appear to view Russia either as a genuine
alternative supplier or as a second option whose presence might increase regional buyers’
leverage with U.S. officials and exporters, even though purchases from Russia could invite
possible U.S. sanctions (see “CAATSA: Possible Sanctions on Purchasers of Russian Weapons”).
Both geopolitical considerations and Russia’s relative comparative advantages appear to motivate
its interest in the region.7 These comparative advantages include weaponry and systems that are
often cheaper than U.S. alternatives, as well as the fact that Moscow does not impose
preconditions on arms sales as the U.S. does, including those related to human rights or secondary
use.8 European suppliers, while less centrally involved with regional arms sales than they were in
past decades, remain players—despite signs that at least some of them appear increasingly
conflicted about profit imperatives versus human rights.9 Export-oriented production helps
maintain the defense industrial base in Europe as in the United States.

4 Pieter Wezeman, et al., “Trends in International Arms Transfers, 2019,” Stockholm International Peace Research
Institute, March 2020.
5 CRS analysis of arms transfers data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). SIPRI’s arms
transfers data are derived from a variety of publicly available sources, some of which are unofficial, and attempts to
capture DCS data in addition to official FMS data. For this reason, there are slight differences in SIPRI’s figures and
those from official U.S. documents. For more on SIPRI’s sources and methods see,
6 CRS analysis of FMS data from the Defense Security Cooperation Agency’s (DSCA) Fiscal Year Series (updated
September 30, 2017). It should be noted that these dollar values for U.S. arms agreements and deliveries to the Middle
East states is significantly undercounted because it excludes U.S. arms delivered under Direct Commercial Sales
(DCS). For more details see, CRS In Focus IF11441, Transfer of Defense Articles: Direct Commercial Sales (DCS), by
Nathan J. Lucas and Michael J. Vassalotti.
7 See, for example, Richard Connolly and Cecilie Sendstad, “Russia’s Role as an Arms Exporter: The Strategic and
Economic Importance of Arms Exports for Russia,” Chatham House, March 20, 2017.
8 Anna Borschchevskaya, “The Tactical Side of Russia’s Arms Sales to the Middle East,” Washington Institute for
Near East Policy, December 2017.
9 See, for example, Beth Oppenheim, “Europe Is at War over Arms Exports,” Foreign Policy, September 18, 2019.
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Arms Sales in the Middle East: Trends and Analytical Perspectives for U.S. Policy

Relative newcomer China may be testing waters in the region and making observations to inform
its own industrial and strategic goals, particularly with regard to the sale of advanced
technologies (such as drones) that many other suppliers to date have been reluctant to sell. While
the volume, value, and sophistication of Chinese sales lag behind even most individual Western
European suppliers, China may be looking to increase its share of the regional arms trade in
coming years. If it does so, some question whether it will be able to continue to remain neutral in
regional rivalries and conflicts.10
Figure 1. Arms Deliveries to the Middle East:
Value, by Selected Supplier, 1950-2019

Source: Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), importer/exporter total trend-indicator value
(TIV) tables. Figure created by CRS.
Note: Total exports by supplier to all Middle Eastern states.11
Looking ahead, experts expect the regional arms market to be increasingly dynamic, with the U.S.
facing increasing competition from other major powers and mid-sized states vying for advantages
in terms of scale, technological innovation, and supplier relationships.12
Debates over Arms Sales and U.S. Policy in the Middle East
Scholars broadly recognize arms sales as an important instrument of state power, even as they
debate the particular effects of arms transfers between nations and the relationship between arms
transfers and interstate behavior.13 States have many incentives to export arms, including

10 See, for example, Daniel Samet, “Missiles, tanks, and fighter jets: China is eyeing more Middle East arms sales,”
National Interest, December 13, 2019.
11 See footnote 7 for methodology details.
12 “From muskets to missiles: The battle for the Middle Eastern arms market is heating up,” Economist, February 13,
2020; “Trends in International Arms Transfers, 2019,” Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, March 2020.
13 See, for example, David Kinsella, “Conflict in Context: Arms Transfers and Third World Rivalries during the Cold
War,” American Journal of Political Science 38, No. 3, August 1994; Gregory S. Sanjian, “Promoting Stability or
Instability? Arms Transfers and Regional Rivalries, 1950-1991,” International Studies Quarterly 43, 1999; Cassady
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Arms Sales in the Middle East: Trends and Analytical Perspectives for U.S. Policy

enhancing the security of allies or partners, constraining the behavior of adversaries, using the
prospect of arms transfers as leverage on governments’ internal or external behavior, and creating
the economies of scale necessary to support a domestic arms industry.14 Congress, by authorizing
and providing oversight of U.S. arms sales, has the potential to shape U.S. policy in the Middle
East. Congressional actions and opinions in specific arms sales cases arguably had a significant
effect on overall policy trajectories.15
In recent years, conflict in the Middle East has highlighted both the important role Congress may
play in shaping U.S. policy in the region (see Yemen, below), and the limits of Congress’s ability
to restrain executive action. Greater congressional scrutiny has delayed deliveries of precision
guided munitions and led to investigations into the possible misuse of U.S. equipment. On the
other hand, to date, no congressionally passed resolution disapproving of an arms sale has been
able to overcome a presidential veto.
Congress may seek to examine: the extent to which U.S. arms sales to the Middle East and related
advisory support have improved U.S. partners’ military capabilities, the benefits and drawbacks
of empowering partner militaries, and the extent to which the United States can achieve its
broader policy objectives given divides on select issues among some of its regional partners and
between the U.S. and some states. Beyond these general policy questions, some in Congress
continue to question whether specific U.S. arms sales to Gulf partners have been consistent with
U.S. statutes and international law.
Have Arms Sales to the Middle East Achieved Their Intended Objectives?
U.S. officials justify arms sales to Middle Eastern states chiefly as a way of building those states’
capacities to contribute to regional U.S. objectives, such as countering terrorism and deterring
Iran. This capacity building is often framed in the context of reducing financial and logistical
demands on the United States. For decades, some executive branch officials and Members of
Congress also have identified some arms sales relationships as supportive of more targeted U.S.
priorities, such as fostering intra-regional cooperation to counter Iran, preventing U.S.
competitors like Russia and China from making inroads in the region, and reinforcing Egypt and
Jordan’s peace treaties with Israel. The record of arms sales in supporting these general and
specific goals has been mixed, and the relative importance of arms sales as a contributing factor is
difficult to quantify.
Have Arms Sales Made U.S. Partners More Capable?
In the Middle East, the United States has sought to use arms sales to bolster partners’ capabilities
to advance major U.S. regional security policy priorities, including countering terrorism, ensuring
free access of the region’s energy resources to global markets, safeguarding U.S. regional
partners’ internal stability, and countering Iran. U.S. arms sales to partners in the Middle East
have demonstrably improved their military capabilities, in some cases dramatically so, as in the

Craft, Weapons for Peace, Weapons for War: The Effect of Arms Transfers on War Outbreak, Involvement, and
,” Routledge, 1999.
14 Richard Johnson, “United States Arms Transfer Decision-Making: Determinants of Sales versus Aid,” Peace
Economics, Peace Science and Public Policy
21, No. 4, 2015.
15 See, for example, Richard Grimmett, “Congress and Foreign Policy Series: Executive-Legislative Consultations on
Arms Sales,” Congressional Research Service, House Foreign Affairs Committee Print, December 1982; and, James M.
Lindsay, “Congress, Foreign Policy, and the New Institutionalism,” International Studies Quarterly, Vol. 38, No. 2,
June 1994, pp. 281-304.
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Arms Sales in the Middle East: Trends and Analytical Perspectives for U.S. Policy

case of Israel. Still, many experts express skepticism about the relative effectiveness of some
national forces as a complement or replacement for U.S. or European military forces, particularly
in the Gulf.16
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have demonstrated an ability to project power beyond
their borders with U.S. and other foreign support, but decades of U.S. arms sales and training
have not created fully independent, logistically self-sufficient, integrated forces in any single Gulf
country or across the Gulf as a whole—a long-standing U.S. goal. One former DOD advisor has
criticized what he views as a U.S. policy approach that is overly focused on arms transfers and
ignores building institutions to use those arms effectively. As he has written:
Most of the United States’ partners in the region lack the defense-institutional capacities
that would enable them to become net security providers and better warriors. Giving them
more tools, when what they really need is to strengthen, and sometimes even build from
scratch, their entire defense and security sectors, is not going to do them much good.17
U.S. officials often frame arms sales to the Middle East, particularly the Gulf, as helping to
reduce the United States’ direct military burden in the region, where the U.S. has a large physical
presence in the form of tens of thousands of troops hosted across several major partners’ bases.
While arms sales and other attempts to develop Gulf militaries might reduce or obviate the need
for the U.S. to maintain such a presence in the future, the increased scale and sophistication of
U.S. arms sales has not, to date, seen an accompanying decrease in the U.S. regional military
The geostrategic importance of the resources and waterways of the Gulf region has evolved since
the United States first prioritized expanded partnerships and power projection to the region in the
1970s, including as U.S. domestic energy production has significantly increased. Nevertheless,
forecasts of global energy and security trends—particularly East Asian energy dependence on the
region—could create incentives for the United States to maintain a military footprint in the
Middle East, regardless of U.S. and European energy consumption and Gulf partner capabilities.
Joint U.S.-Middle Eastern military partnerships have yielded mixed results in recent years. U.S.
equipment and training of partner counter-terrorism forces have at times led to successful
operations in places such as Yemen, Iraq, and Tunisia.18 With regard to the United States’ most
significant recent counterterrorism effort, the years-long campaign against the Islamic State in
Iraq and Syria (IS, aka ISIS/ISIL), the participation of Middle Eastern states has varied. While
Iraqi forces, aided by billions of dollars in U.S. training and assistance, were the driving force
behind the Islamic State’s territorial defeat in Iraq, other U.S. regional partners were not major
military participants despite the large amount of U.S. arms and platforms they possess.
Various Gulf countries conducted airstrikes in Syria in 2014 and 2015 as part of the U.S.-led
Counter-IS Coalition, but apparently have not done so in recent years; U.S. partners outside the
region and the United States itself have far outpaced their efforts. Logistical, C4ISR (Command,
Control, Communication, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance), and
readiness constraints, along with potential domestic political risks, may have shaped Gulf
countries’ decisions. Similarly, while three Gulf navies participate in the eight-member
International Maritime Security Construct (IMSC), inaugurated in November 2019 to provide

16 See, for example, Andrew Exum, “U.S. arms sales to the Gulf have failed,” Atlantic, June 21, 2019.
17 Bilal Saab, “Arms sales can’t replace U.S. engagement in the Gulf,” Foreign Policy, September 20, 2019.
18 William Maclean, Noah Browning, and Yara Bayoumy, “Yemen counter-terrorism missions shows UAE ambition,”
Reuters, June 28, 2016; Lilia Blaise, Eric Schmitt, and Carlotta Gall, “Why the U.S. and Tunisia Keep Their
Cooperation Secret,” New York Times, March 2, 2019.
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maritime security in the Gulf, the United States founded the effort and as of September 2020 a
British naval commander leads it.
Have Arms Sales Supported Cooperation between and among U.S. Partners?
There are deep divisions within the Middle East that potentially complicate U.S. efforts to create
a united front among its regional partners; arms sales do not appear to have ameliorated these
rifts, though they potentially could be used for that purpose. Moreover, the partners to whom the
United States sells arms have policy approaches that differ from some U.S. policies, particularly
regarding Iran, raising questions about the utility of arms sales in furthering U.S. interests. These
dynamics are particularly visible in the Gulf, where fostering unity has been a long-sought, and
long-frustrated, U.S. policy goal.
The most prominent example of these divisions is the ongoing rift in the Gulf Cooperation
Council (GCC) between Qatar and some of its former partners, led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
In June 2017, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Bahrain (along with some other Arab states) cut ties
with and began a trade boycott of fellow GCC member Qatar, whose relatively independent
foreign policy and support for Muslim Brotherhood-aligned regional movements had caused
friction with its neighbors before 2017, notably in 2013-2014. U.S., Kuwaiti, and other efforts to
mediate a resolution of the dispute have not succeeded, and speculation about an imminent
resolution of the dispute have not come to fruition.19 In June 2017, then-Senate Foreign Relations
Committee Chairman Bob Corker announced that he would withhold preliminary (i.e., pre-
notification) approval of all future arms sales to GCC states until Congress could obtain “a better
understanding of the path to resolve the current dispute.”20 While acknowledging that the dispute
remained unresolved, Corker lifted his hold in February 2018. There do not appear to have been
any comparable Administration attempts to leverage arms sales to resolve the rift.
Middle Eastern states also have widely divergent views of Iran, with relations ranging from
confrontational to amicable. Saudi Arabia, whose energy infrastructure Iran targeted in September
2019, is engaged in a regional competition with Iran; each side has accused the other of harboring
aggressive sectarian and strategic designs on the other and throughout the region. Similarly, the
Bahraini government accuses Iran of fomenting unrest among Bahrain’s Shia majority. The UAE
generally shares the Saudi view of Iran as a threat and Iran-UAE relations are further complicated
by a territorial dispute. Yet, the two states have significant commercial ties and Emirati officials
have held talks in Iran, including in the past year. The other GCC states maintain relatively
normal ties with Iran: the governments of Kuwait, Oman, and Qatar all communicate regularly
with their Iranian counterparts. In the event of armed conflict between Iran and the United States,
it is unclear how likely these three states, with their U.S.-supplied weapons, would be to
participate militarily.
The differences of views among U.S. partners complicate U.S. efforts to encourage greater
cooperation, including the U.S. initiative to assemble a “Middle East Strategic Alliance” (MESA)
to counter Iran. Egypt withdrew from the initiative in April 2019, reportedly citing concerns about
the effort’s viability and the potential to increase tensions with Iran. The Trump Administration
took emergency action in May 2019 to sell arms to Jordan with the stated purpose of deterring
Iran. While Jordan views certain Iranian regional activities as a threat, however, U.S. arms sales

19 Nabeel Nowairah, “Rethinking U.S. policy toward the fractured GCC,” Washington Institute for Near East Policy,
May 12, 2020.
20 Eric Schmitt, “Senator Puts Hold on Arms Sales to Persian Gulf Nations Over Qatar Feud,” New York Times, June
26, 2017.
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do not appear to make any more likely the prospect of Jordan playing a major role in counter-Iran
military operations.
Have Arms Sales Deterred U.S. Regional Partners From Cooperating with U.S.
From the perspective of “strategic denial,” U.S. sales do appear to have limited the extent to
which some purchasers of U.S. equipment and training have turned to strategic competitors of the
United States, such as Russia or China, for comparable support. According to recent arms sales
data, the U.S. has supplied nearly 45% of the arms imported by Middle Eastern states between
2000 and 2019, while Russia accounted for 19% and China about 2.5% (see Figure 2).21
For decades, officials in successive Administrations have argued, as President Trump stated in
November 2018, “If we foolishly cancel these contracts [with Saudi Arabia], Russia and China
would be the enormous beneficiaries.”22 Speaking of the importance that U.S. arms sales play in
solidifying U.S. relationships with Middle East partners, CENTCOM Commander General
Kenneth McKenzie said in June 2020 that, “We don’t want [U.S. partners in the Middle East]
turning to China, we don’t want them turning to Russia to buy those systems.”23 As increasing
Chinese armed unmanned aerial vehicle and missile transfers and Russian arms sales to the region
demonstrate, these considerations appear likely to remain relevant.
Figure 2. Arms Suppliers to the Middle East and North Africa (MENA)
Value and Rank, by Supplier, 2000-2019

Source: Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), importer/exporter total trend-indicator value
(TIV) tables. Figure created by CRS.
The pipeline of U.S. ammunition, spare parts, and maintenance arguably makes U.S. partner
militaries dependent on the United States for sustained military operations, but possible

21 CRS analysis of arms transfers data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). See footnote
7 for information on methodology.
22 White House, Statement from President Donald J. Trump on Standing with Saudi Arabia, November 20, 2018.
23 “CENTCOM and the Shifting Sands of the Middle East: A Conversation with CENTCOM Commander Gen.
Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr.”, Middle East Institute virtual panel, June 10, 2020.
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interruptions of U.S. support may carry diplomatic and strategic costs. A partner who the United
States decides to “cut off” could turn to others over time, even with significant sunk costs.
Various countries’ development of their own defense production capabilities, including through
co-production arrangements under arms sales approved by Congress, may erode any existing U.S.
leverage of this type over time.
Have U.S. Arms Sales Helped to Reinforce Regional Peace?
While the prospect of receiving U.S. armaments may not in-and-of-itself be the determining
factor in promoting peaceful relations amongst Middle Eastern nation states, over the past few
decades it has been a factor in reinforcing peace treaties between Israel and its neighbors.
Since the Israel-Egypt 1979 peace treaty, U.S. policymakers have facilitated arms sales to Egypt
to support the related goals of sustaining its close military cooperation with the United States and
peace with Israel. Indeed, successive appropriations acts have made funds available for Egypt
only if the Secretary of State certifies that Egypt is meeting its obligations under the treaty. While
U.S. arms represent an incentive for Egypt to uphold the 1979 treaty, Egypt’s ties with Israel are
arguably reinforced more by growing cooperation between the two in other areas of mutual
concern, such as countering terrorism in the Sinai Peninsula and natural gas development in the
eastern Mediterranean.
In the case of Jordan, while there is no comparable statutory requirement conditioning U.S.
assistance on Jordan’s 1994 peace treaty with Israel, a number of U.S. policy moves related to
arms were important in supporting the treaty. These moves include Jordan’s acquisition of a
squadron of F-16s in 1996 and its designation as a major non-NATO ally later that year. A State
Department spokesman directly linked the designation to the peace treaty, saying “this new
designation recognizes Jordan’s continued support for peace and underscores the strong
relationship that is growing between Jordan and the United States. And you can trace it back, I
think, to 1994 when President Clinton expressed his determination to support the courageous
stand that King Hussein took in advancing the peace process.”24 Israeli support reportedly helped
overcome some initial congressional hesitance.25
Potential arms sales to the UAE may also have played a role in securing its September 2020
normalization of relations with Israel (Bahrain also established ties with Israel in a series of
agreements collectively known as the Abraham Accords). After the Israeli-UAE agreement was
announced, but before it was signed, Israeli media reported that the UAE had conditioned its
agreement to full normalization with Israel on a major U.S. arms sale package that included,
among other items, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.26 Israeli officials announced in October 2020
that they would not oppose such an arrangement. In mid-November 2020, the Trump
Administration notified Congress of its intent to sell up to 50 F-35s to the UAE, a decision with
potentially dramatic implications for Israel and the region. For more, see “Israel’s Qualitative

24 U.S. State Department Daily Press Briefing #184, November 14, 1996. Available at
25 See Deborah Jones, “Major Non-NATO Ally Status for Jordan: National Security or Peace Process Politics?”
National Defense University, National War College, 1998; Lori Plotkin, “Jordan-Israel Peace: Taking Stock, 1994-
1997,” Washington Institute for Near East Policy, May 1997.
26 Nahum Barnea, “U.S. to Sell F-35 Jets to UAE as Part of Secret Clause in Israel Ties Agreement,”,
August 18, 2020. For information on the F-35, see CRS Report RL30563, F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Program, by
Jeremiah Gertler. On August 20, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said that an F-35 sale was
not an explicit condition of the normalization deal with Israel, but that the agreement should remove “any hurdles” to
such a sale. “Gantz raps Netanyahu for sidelining him on F-35 policy as UAE deal brewed,” Times of Israel, August
20, 2020.
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Military Edge (QME)”, below, as well as CRS Report R46580, Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge
and Possible U.S. Arms Sales to the United Arab Emirates
, coordinated by Jeremy M. Sharp and
Jim Zanotti.
What are Potential Negative Consequences of Arms Sales?
Some observers challenge the premise that the United States should export arms to the Middle
East at all, particularly in partnership with non-democracies.
Unpredictability of Local Actors. As policymakers debate the U.S. military “footprint” in the
region, some observers have warned that as the U.S. relies more heavily on local partners to
provide regional security. In their view, this is, in effect, outsourcing the task of maintaining U.S.
deterrence to independent and potentially less capable actors and it increases the risk of instability
and perhaps unintended conflict.27
Human Rights. As some Middle Eastern countries have engaged in regional military operations
using U.S. arms and equipment, critics have argued that these operations have a moral cost–
including the use of those arms that result in the death of civilian noncombatants–and a
detrimental effect on U.S. interests.28 Debate over the war in Yemen, as well as UAE and Qatari
military support for some parties to the conflict in Libya, has attracted particular attention in this
regard during the Trump Administration. Another argument is that weapons provided by the
United States empower undemocratic regimes that repress human rights, fostering the political
instability that is characterized as a threat to U.S. interests.29 Trump Administration officials have
responded to such criticisms by arguing, perhaps more explicitly than their predecessors, that
national security concerns can and should sometimes supersede human rights concerns. In
response to a question about the advisability of the United States partnering with governments
accused of human rights violations, Secretary Pompeo said in an April 2019 hearing,
There’s no doubt that it’s a mean nasty world out there, but not every one of these leaders
is the same. Some of them are trying to wipe entire nations off the face of the Earth. And
others are actually partnering with us to help keep America safe. There’s a difference
among leaders. You might call them tyrants; you might call them authoritarians. But,
there’s a fundamental difference. And therefore, a fundamental difference in the way the
United States should respond.30
Military Balance. Congress has long debated whether and how improving the capabilities and
independent operational capacity of Middle Eastern states might shape the military balance of
power in the region. From the 1970s through the 2010s, some in Congress viewed arms sales to
some Middle Eastern states with significant skepticism and scrutiny, citing fears about potential
threats to the security of Israel.31 In more recent years, Gulf states and others have developed
more overt ties with Israel, thus arguably making Israeli security less of a concern in the debate

27 Fahad Nazer, “Main Obstacle to New US-GCC Partnership May Be GCC Itself,” Atlantic Council, June 3, 2015;
Perry Cammack and Michelle Dunne, “Fueling Middle East Conflicts – or Dousing the Flames,” Carnegie Endowment
for International Peace, March 23, 2018.
28 See, for example, A. Trevor Thrall and Caroline Dorminey, “Risky Business: The Role of Arms Sales in U.S.
Foreign Policy,” Cato Institute, March 13, 2018.
29 Amnesty International, Arms Transfers to the Middle East and North Africa: Lessons for an Effective Arms Trade
, 2011.
30 CQ Congressional Transcripts, Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations Holds
Hearing on Fiscal 2020 Budget Request for the State Department, April 9, 2019.
31 Anna Ahronheim, “Israel’s next security concern: a Middle East arms race,” Jerusalem Post, May 24, 2017.
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on arms sales to those states. The volume of U.S. sales has also contributed to what some
characterize as a regional arms race,32 an issue of longstanding congressional concern.33
Sustainability. Others challenge the long-term financial and political viability of current sales
arrangements within regional states, questioning whether U.S. partners can and should purchase
high volumes of arms or sophisticated, high-cost systems in light of fiscal strains and domestic
obligations. For some U.S. partners, maintaining high levels of arms procurements may result in
less spending on infrastructure, education, and various public services to which populations have
become accustomed in recent decades.34
Impact on U.S. Domestic Industry
The impact of U.S. arms exports on the U.S. economy and domestic job creation has been an
issue of contention. Some have argued that U.S. arms exports are critical to the U.S. economy and
have created a substantial number of American jobs. Others have argued that the economic and
strategic benefits of U.S. arms exports are marginal, especially when weighed against to their
potentially negative impacts.
Trump Administration Reinterprets Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR)35
On July 24, 2020, the Trump Administration announced that the United States would reinterpret the multilateral
Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) to ease export guidelines for some unmanned aerial systems (UAS)
or drones, including armed MQ-9 Reaper drones and other systems. In a factsheet released the same day, the
State Department listed five policy objectives of the change, of which the first was “to increases [sic] trade
opportunities for U.S. companies.”36 Other objectives include bolstering partner capacity and strengthening
bilateral relationships. The move fol ows previous changes in 2018 and 2019 to facilitate UAS exports. Section
1278 of the House-passed FY2021 NDAA directs the Secretary of State to submit annual reports on the
effectiveness of U.S. efforts to export certain items covered by the MTCR.
U.S. membership in the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) had previously constrained U.S. arms sales,
including in 2015, when it was cited in a letter that indicated the Obama Administration’s intent not to sell certain
drones to Jordan.37 Supporters of the change argued that the restriction on UAS exports allowed China to
develop its industrial base, achieve technological advancements, and establish relationships with U.S. partners.38
Middle Eastern countries such as Iraq and Jordan have bought Chinese UAS, and several have used them in
combat, including Saudi Arabia (in Yemen) and the UAE (in Libya). Other significant or potential UAS exporters

32 Anna Ahronheim, “Israel’s next security concern: a Middle East arms race,” Jerusalem Post, May 24, 2017.
33 22 U.S.C. §2778(a)(2) directs the President to consider, when evaluating arms transfers, whether, among other
possibilities, their export “would contribute to an arms race.” The Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Years
1992 and 1993 (P.L. 102-138), found that, in addition to regional instability and other factors, “the continued
proliferation of weapons and related equipment and services contribute further to a regional arms race in the Middle
East.” Section 404 of the law directed the President to negotiate and then implement a “multilateral arms transfer and
control regime” for the region and further required a number of reports, including annual reports documenting all
transfers to Middle Eastern states and their impact on regional military balance. Those reports were declared obsolete
and discontinued in the FY2017 State Department Authorities Act (P.L. 114-323), which repealed Section 404 of P.L.
102-138. Arms sale notification guidelines require the executive branch to assess the potential effects of proposed sales
on the regional security environment.
34 See, for example, Jaroslaw Jarzabek, “G.C.C Military Spending In Era of Low Oil Prices,” Middle East Institute,
August 2016.
35 For more, see CRS In Focus IF11069, U.S.-Proposed Missile Technology Control Regime Changes, by Paul K. Kerr.
36 U.S. State Department Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, “U.S. Policy on the Export of Unmanned Aerial
Systems,” July 24, 2020.
37 Rowan Scarborough, “Obama: No U.S. drones for ally Jordan,” Washington Times, August 19, 2015.
38 See Senate Foreign Relations Committee, “Chairman Risch on Administration’s Decision to Modernize the Missile
Technology Control Regime,” July 24, 2020.
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include Israel and Turkey. Opponents condemned the shift as a “reckless” move that increases the risk of
governments using U.S. materiel to abuse human rights.39
As noted above, the U.S. plays a major role in the global arms market; according to one 2020
survey, 42 of the world’s 100 largest defense firms are based in the U.S., including seven of the
top ten.40 Successive U.S. administrations have argued that arms sales play a role in sustaining the
U.S. defense industrial base and that arms sales, in keeping that industry competitive and
innovative, have national security and economic benefits for the United States.41
While the majority of U.S. defense contractors’ business is domestic, exports to Middle Eastern
states have at times played a key role in supporting the United States’ defense industry. Kuwaiti
and Qatari purchases of Boeing’s F-18 and F-15 jets helped keep assembly lines open in St.
Louis, Missouri.42 Similar dynamics have reportedly played out in South Carolina (where
Bahrain’s purchase of 16 F-16s boosted a Lockheed-Martin plant in the state),43 Ohio (where
Saudi orders have sustained General Dynamics tank production in Lima),44 Massachusetts (home
to Raytheon, whose production of the Patriot air and missile defense system was rejuvenated by a
2008 UAE deal),45 and elsewhere. Orders for other systems that remain in use by U.S. forces may
add to orders being placed for U.S. and other partner countries’ purchases, but may not have an
easily identifiable net effect.
More so than its predecessors, the Trump Administration has emphasized the economic benefits
to the United States of selling arms abroad. In the April 2018 National Security Presidential
Memorandum Regarding U.S. Conventional Arms Transfer Policy, the Administration specified
that when making arms transfer decisions, it would take into account a potential arms sale’s
“financial or economic effect on United States industry and its effect on the defense industrial
base.”46 President Trump often speaks about arms sales as a boon for U.S. workers; in October
2018, he claimed that new arms sales to Saudi Arabia would be worth “over a million” jobs.47
One analyst argues that Saudi arms sales support 40,000 jobs at most, at least some of which are
located outside of the United States (mostly in Saudi Arabia, which, as noted above, is seeking to
boost its own domestic arms industry).48 Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs

39 Senate Foreign Relations Committee, “Menendez Statement on Administration’s Loosening of Regulations to Export
Drones,” July 24, 2020.
40 “Top 100 for 2020,” DefenseNews.
41 U.S. State Department Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, “Fact Sheet: U.S. Arms Sales and Defense Trade,” July
27, 2020. See also CRS In Focus IF10548, Defense Primer: U.S. Defense Industrial Base, by Heidi M. Peters.
42 Chuck Raasch, “Boeing jet deal means big boost for St. Louis jobs,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, September 28, 2016;
Joe Gould, “US-Qatar fighter jet sale worth $21B in middle of diplomatic crisis,” Defense News, June 6, 2017.
43 Maayan Schechter, “Lockheed Martin facility in Greenville ‘ideal’ for F-16 shift,” The Greenville News, March 26,
44 Andrea Shalal-Esa, “Saudi, Egypt orders to keep US tank plant running,” Reuters, May 11, 2012; Rich Smith, “Can a
Massive Saudi Arms Deal Help Save General Dynamics’ Tank Biz?” Motley Fool, August 21, 2016.
45 Ivan Gale, “UAE aids upgrade of Raytheon’s Patriot missile system,” The National, June 29, 2011; Andrea Shalal-
Esa, “Raytheon sees “never-ending” opportunity in Patriot missile system,” Reuters, August 4, 2013.
46 The White House, National Security Presidential Memorandum Regarding U.S. Conventional Arms Transfer Policy,
April 19, 2018.
47 White House, “Remarks by President Trump at Defense Roundtable,” October 20, 2018.
48 William Hartung, “U.S. Military Support for Saudi Arabia and the War in Yemen,” Center for International Policy,
November 2018. This estimate appears to go back at least several decades; the same figure (“I believe it is, per billion
dollars, about 40,000 jobs”) was referenced by a witness at an October 1981 Senate hearing. Hearing before the Senate
Foreign Relations Committee, “Arms Sales Package to Saudi Arabia,” October 5, 1981.
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Clarke Cooper cited a figure of 5,700 jobs for every $1 billion in arms sales in July 2020. 49An
outside analyst, citing Commerce Department data, estimates that, generally, $1 billion in arms
exports supports about 4,000 jobs, fewer than are supported by other export industries.50
Beyond challenging the scale of arms sales’ economic impact, opponents of specific arms sales
sometimes characterize these potential economic benefits as incommensurate with possible risks
to U.S. national interests. In March 2016, Senator Chris Murphy said of arms sales to Saudi
Ultimately I’m tasked with creating jobs in Connecticut, but first and foremost I’m tasked
with keeping America safe from attack and keeping my state safe from attack. And so the
most sacred obligation you have, right now as a member of Congress, is to prevent another
9-11 attack from happening. And so, to me, the way in which we have sold arms to the
Saudis without requiring them to be a true lasting daily partner in the fight against
extremism really puts our country’s national security in jeopardy. And so, yes, sometimes
you have to make tradeoffs between, you know, economic security and physical security
for the nation. But the latter has to triumph when there’s a conflict.51
History of Congress and Arms Sales in the Middle East
Since the end of World War II, the Middle East has at times featured prominently in congressional
deliberations over U.S. arms sales. Members’ questions over specific arms sales to states in the
region have helped frame the terms of the arms sales debate, and have shaped the broader,
sometimes contentious relationship between the executive and legislative branches over U.S.
foreign policy.
In the aftermath of World War II, the provision of arms became a major area of competition in the
Cold War rivalry between the United States and Soviet Union. Through arms sales, the two
superpowers sought to reinforce nations within their spheres of influence, and to entice
nonaligned states to support them. The Middle East was one of the most contested regions, with
the United States providing weapons to partners like Saudi Arabia and prerevolutionary Iran, and
Soviet weapons flowing to Egypt, Syria, and Iraq.
Some policymakers, reflecting currents within public opinion, reacted to this postwar military
buildup with calls for a more measured approach, leading to the passage of the Arms Control and
Disarmament Act in 1961, which began by declaring “a world ... free from the scourge of war and
the dangers and burdens of armaments” to be the fundamental goal of U.S. policy. To achieve this
goal, Congress created the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA), an independent
agency charged with coordinating research on international arms sales and managing U.S.
participation in international meetings and negotiations convened to discuss arms control.
After the Nixon Administration acted unilaterally with regard to specific arms transactions with
Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait, Congress passed the Foreign Assistance Act of 1974 (P.L. 93-
559), which laid the basis for the system that still exists in its essential form today.52 The Nelson-

49 U.S. Department of State, Briefing with Assistant Secretary for Political-Military Affairs R. Clarke Cooper on New
Developments in the U.S. Defense Trade, July 24, 2020.
50 Jonathan Waverly, “America’s Arms Sales Policy: Security Abroad, Not Jobs at Home,” War on the Rocks, April 6,
51 Stephen Snyder, “US senator to Saudis: Stop bombing civilians in Yemen,” PRI, March 16, 2016.
52 Peter Tompa, “The Arms Export Control Act and Congressional Codetermination over Arms Sales,” American
University International Law Review
Vol. 1 (1986), p. 294. Legislation with the same name was also passed in 1948
and 1961, among other years.
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Bingham Amendment to the act required the President to notify Congress of government-to-
government arms sales above $25 million, after which Congress would have 20 calendar days to
veto the sale by concurrent resolution. Nelson-Bingham was quickly put to the test when the Ford
Administration informed Congress in July 1975 of its intent to sell a number of air defense
missile batteries to Jordan. Congressional concerns over the security of Israel (whose government
opposed the sale), and over the fact that Congress was not consulted in advance, led the Ford
Administration to withdraw the sale. The sale went through later in the year after a number of
modifications mollified those concerns.53 The episode marked an important precedent in the
establishment of congressional prerogatives over arms sales.54
The International Security Assistance and Arms Export Control Act of 1976 (AECA, P.L. 94-329)
further refined the process by which Congress reviews arms sales proposed by the executive
branch. As amended by P.L. 99-247, the AECA requires that, for sales over a certain valuation,
the administration must provide formal notification 30 calendar days before taking steps to
conclude the sale, during which time Congress may adopt a joint resolution of disapproval,
which, if signed by the President, will prevent the sale from going forward.55 Dozens of
resolutions of disapproval have been introduced, with the majority related to proposed sales to
Middle East countries (see Appendix B). To date, no sale has been blocked as a result of a joint
resolution of disapproval.
However, in some cases, congressional scrutiny, skepticism, or adoption of such a resolution has
arguably contributed to preventing or delaying arms sales to Middle East countries, or to altering
the terms of sale. For example, after 64 Senators sent a letter to the White House indicating their
opposition to elements of a proposed arms package for Saudi Arabia in 1987, the Reagan
Administration dropped the inclusion of Maverick antitank missiles to secure approval for the
remaining items.56
The closest Congress has come to blocking a sale legislatively came in 1986, when both the
House and the Senate adopted by veto-proof majorities legislation to block a proposed sale of
several hundred Sidewinder, Harpoon, and Stinger missiles to Saudi Arabia. President Reagan
vetoed the legislation (S.J.Res. 316) but decided to drop the Stinger missiles from the sale. This
was enough to save the rest of the deal, the blocking of which failed by a single vote in the

53 Lewis Sorley, Arms Transfers under Nixon: A Policy Analysis (The University Press of Kentucky, 1983), pp. 109-
54 Congressional authority over arms sales is constitutionally derived from the commerce clause (Article 1, Section 8,
Clause 3) as well as Article 4, Section 3, Clause 1, which grants to Congress the power to “dispose of and make all
needful Rules and Regulations respecting ... Property belonging to the United States,” among others. Presidential power
in this area is not as clearly enumerated and rests on more general executive authorities. For more on the debate over
these concurrent powers, see Tompa, op. cit.
55 After a joint resolution is passed by both the House and the Senate, the measure would next be sent to the President.
Once this legislation reaches the President, presumably he or she would veto it in a timely manner. Congress would
then face the task of obtaining a two-thirds majority in both houses to override the veto and impose its position on the
President. For more information on this process and historical examples thereof, see CRS Report RL31675, Arms
Sales: Congressional Review Process
, by Paul K. Kerr. In the 1983 Supreme Court Case INS vs. Chadha, the Court
ruled unconstitutional the legislative veto, a process by which Congress could overturn Administration decisions
without formally enacting a law, such as concurrent resolutions under the AECA. In 1986, Congress passed P.L. 99-
247, revising the AECA to replace concurrent resolutions with joint resolutions (which can be vetoed by the President).
Larry Mortsolf, “Revisiting the Legislative Veto Issue: A Recent Amendment to the Arms Export Control Act,”
DISAM Journal (volume 8, issue 4), Summer 1986.
56 Elaine Sciolino, “U.S. Withdraws Antitank Arms From Saudi Sale,” New York Times, October 9, 1987. For more
examples, see CRS Report R46580, Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge and Possible U.S. Arms Sales to the United
Arab Emirates
, coordinated by Jeremy M. Sharp and Jim Zanotti.
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Senate, 66-34. More recently, proposed Senate legislation to block specific sales of weapon
systems to Saudi Arabia did not garner sufficient votes to pass in September 2016 (27-71) and
June 2017 (47-53), nor did a similar measure to block a proposed sale to Bahrain in November
2018 (21-77).
The congressional response to the Trump Administration’s May 2019 invocation of AECA
emergency authorities to immediately sell billions of dollars in U.S. weapons to Saudi Arabia, the
UAE, and Jordan marks a significant moment in the history of U.S. arms sales to the Middle East
(for more see “Congressional Oversight: May 2019 Emergency Arms Sales”, below). On June 5,
2019, a bipartisan group of seven senators introduced Joint Resolutions of Disapproval against
the sales. About two weeks later, the Senate passed those resolutions, followed by the House in
July. President Trump vetoed those measures on July 24, 2020, and the Senate voted not to
override his vetoes. Since the emergency sales, some Members of Congress have proposed
amending that emergency authority to restrict the conditions under which the president may
exercise it.
In June 2020, it was reported that the Trump Administration, frustrated with informal
congressional holds placed on sales to Saudi Arabia and Turkey, may forgo the notice and right of
approval traditionally given to relevant congressional committees before formal arms sales
notifications.57 This informal approval process dates back to February 1976 correspondence
between then-Senate Foreign Relations Committee member Senator Hubert Humphrey and the
Ford Administration. In the midst of congressional proceedings that would lead to the passage of
the AECA later that year, the Administration wrote that, “We will provide advance notification to
the Committees’ staff in writing of all FMS cases under consideration” which “will provide at
least twenty (20) additional days for committee review…before the formal statement required by
Section 36b.” One observer has argued that eliminating the informal committee notification
process “could circumvent congressional oversight,” while also damaging the Administration’s
stated policy objective by “[depriving] the administration of an early opportunity to adjust sales to
reflect congressional concerns, which could actually lead to delays.”58 The Trump Administration
informally notified Congress of its intent to sell F-35s to the UAE on October 29, and submitted
formal notification for that and other UAE sales packages on November 10, 2020, short of the
traditional 30-day period between informal and formal notification.59
Select Country Profiles
By one metric, Egypt is the world’s third-largest importer of arms, a product of its status as the
biggest Arab state, its large and politically powerful military, and its strategically important
geographic position (including administration of the Suez Canal).60 First a Soviet client during the
Cold War, Egypt became a major market for U.S. arms in the late 1970s and 1980s, as the United
States sought to entice and then reward and reinforce Egypt’s pivot away from Soviet influence
and its 1979 peace treaty with Israel.

57 Michael LaForgia, et al., “Trump Administration May End Congressional Review of Foreign Arms Sales,” New York
, June 25, 2020.
58 LaForgia, et al., op. cit.
59 Engel Statement on Proposed Sale of F-35 Aircraft to UAE, October 29, 2020.
60 “USA and France dramatically increase major arms exports; Saudi Arabia is largest importer,” Stockholm
International Peace Research Institute, March 9, 2020.
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As part of this support, Egypt has consistently been one of the world’s highest recipients of
Foreign Military Financing (FMF), which it uses exclusively to purchase U.S. weapons. But
political turmoil in Egypt since 2011 and repressive measures that the government of President
Abdel Fattah al Sisi has taken against domestic opponents after Sisi overthrew the elected
government in 2013 have contributed to tension between the United States and Egypt,
complicating bilateral relations. Within this context, Egypt’s government has sought sources of
major defense systems beyond the United States, though sales have risen and some previously
withheld aid has been restored under the Trump Administration (see “Providing Weaponry to
Governments Suspected of Human Rights Violations,”
below).61 In 2020, the Administration
notified Congress of a potential sale of $2.3 billion in equipment to refurbish 42 of Egypt’s U.S.-
origin AH-64E Apache attack helicopters.
From 2010 to 2014, 47% of Egyptian arms acquisitions came from the United States; that figure
dropped to 15% from 2015 to 2019, as France (35%) and Russia (34%) stepped in to fill the gap
(see Figure 3). Most of Egypt’s military assets (including its air fleet) are divided between
higher-end American equipment, Western European imports, and older Eastern European
systems. Although diversification may lessen Egypt’s dependence on any one supplier to some
extent, it also raises the level of complexity Egypt faces in maintaining diverse weapons systems
and juggling multiple supplier relationships. For example, Egypt’s pursuit of some Russian
systems could trigger U.S. sanctions (see CAATSA, below).
Figure 3. Arms Suppliers to Egypt
Value and Rank, by Supplier, 2000-2019

Source: Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), importer/exporter total trend-indicator value
(TIV) tables. Figure created by CRS.

61 Some specific recent transactions illustrate apparent Egyptian attempts to diversify in the aftermath of the Obama
Administration’s reaction to the 2013 military intervention. In February 2014, Egypt signed a $3 billion weapons deal
with Russia. Two months later, the United States went through with a sale of Apache helicopters that had been frozen
because of the 2013 military intervention and its aftermath, although the Obama Administration continued to withhold
delivery of more than a dozen F-16s until March 2015.
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Meanwhile, Egypt has strengthened its relationship with European suppliers, especially France,
despite European uneasiness regarding Sisi’s post-2013 crackdown against dissent. Egypt and
France concluded a $5.2 billion deal for 24 Rafale fighter jets in February 2015, and seven
months later, Egypt agreed to buy two Mistral helicopter carriers for more than $1 billion.62 The
two countries signed another agreement, worth more than $1 billion, in April 2016 for additional
ships, fighter jets, and a military satellite communication system.63 It remains to be seen whether
Egypt’s recent purchases from non-U.S. sources will affect its relationship with the United States.
According to one Egyptian officer, “The idea is to diversify armaments either from Russia, the
US, China, or France, and not to rely on one armament source.”64
Egypt’s military record in light
Egyptian Arms at a Glance:
of recent arms purchases is
Select Platforms and Procurements
unclear: in its conflict against
Fixed-wing combat aircraft: 36 F-4s (US), 240 F-16s (US), 24 Rafales
an Islamic State-aligned
(France), 91 Mirages (France), 36 MiG-21MFs (USSR), 18 MiG-29s
insurgency in the Sinai
(Russia), 80 CAC F-7s (China)
Peninsula, one account
Fixed-wing transport aircraft: 22 C-130Hs (US), 3 An-74s (Ukraine),
describes the “intensified
8 DHC-5Ds (Canada), 24 C295Ms (international)
counterterrorism campaign” as
Rotary-wing combat aircraft: 45 AH-64 Apaches (US), 55 SA 342
an indicator of Egypt’s military
Gazelles (US), 12 Ka-52S (Russia)
revival, while another says the
Air defense: 4 Patriot batteries (US); S-300VM (Russia)
“campaign has been ineffective
Navy: 4-8 submarines (China/Germany), 41 fast-attack craft (35 missile,
at best and counterproductive at
6 gun; USSR, Israel, US), 11 frigates (US, China, Spain, France), 2 Mistrals
(France), 4 corvettes (France), 1 missile corvette (Russia)
Artillery: 155 mm self-propelled howitzers (US)
Armored vehicles: 1,130 battle tanks (mostly M1A1s, US), hundreds
of APCs (USSR, US, Egypt)
Iraq has purchased major U.S.
Total value of all DSCA FMS notifications since 2010: $2.1 bil ion
weapons systems and materiel
Top Five Suppliers, 2000-2019: United States (41.6%), Russia
(with some U.S. FMF and other
(24.7%), France (17.3%), Germany (5.5%), and China (2.7%)
assistance), but has also sought
Note: The information in this and the fol owing national
platforms/procurements textboxes is drawn almost entirely from Jane’s.
to diversify the sources from
which it obtains arms. As Iraq
struggles to manage U.S.-Iran tensions (and periodic direct conflict within Iraq itself), Russia has
emerged as an alternative supplier for some systems.
From 2011 until 2016, the United States proposed more than $28 billion in foreign military sales
to Iraq, including a $2.3 billion sale of 18 F-16s in 2011; a proposed $4.8 billion sale of 24
Apache helicopters in 2014 has not been implemented.66 U.S. arms sales to Iraq took on greater
urgency after the Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIL, ISIS, or the Arabic acronym Da’esh)
swept into northern Iraq in July 2014, resulting in proposals for $2.4 billion for 175 Abrams tanks
in December 2014 and nearly $2 billion for F-16 munitions in January 2016. During the Trump

62 France originally built the Mistrals for a 2011 deal with Russia, but their delivery to Russia was cancelled after the
imposition of EU sanctions on Russia after its invasion of Ukraine and unilateral annexation of Crimea.
63 Oscar Nkala, “Egypt, France To Sign Arms Deal Mid-April,” Defense News, April 6, 2016.
64 “Egypt Defence Expo highlights Cairo's diversified military strategy,” The National (UAE), December 8, 2018.
65 Robert Springborg and F.C. Williams, “The Egyptian Military: A Slumbering Giant Awakes,”Carnegie Middle East
Center, February 28, 2019; William Hartung and Seth Binder, “U.S. Security Assistance to Egypt: Examining the
Return on Investment,” Project on Middle East Democracy and Center for International Policy, May 2020.
66 Figure calculated from DSCA Major Arms Sales Archives.
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Administration the United States has proposed one foreign military sale to Iraq, and deliveries
from other countries, notably Russia, have increased significantly. In 2020, reports have
suggested that Iraq’s F-16 program is facing considerable challenges after U.S. contractors
withdrew from the country amid security concerns.67
Figure 4. Arms Suppliers to Iraq
Value and Rank, by Supplier, 2000-2019

Source: Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), importer/exporter total trend-indicator value
(TIV) tables. Figure created by CRS.
According to SIPRI, Russian arms deliveries to Iraq tripled from 2010-2014 to 2015-2019; for the
last period, Russia was the second largest supplier of arms to Iraq (34% of deliveries), behind
only the United States (45%); see Figure 4.68 Iraq has a considerable amount of Russian-origin
equipment, a legacy of its past supply relationship with the Soviet Union. A $4.2 billion arms deal
between Iraq and Russia was announced in October 2012 and was reportedly put on hold a few
weeks later.69One component of the deal, however, an order of Mi-28 Havoc “Night Hunter”
attack helicopters, was delivered and used against the Islamic State.70 In 2020, amid calls from
some Iraqis that U.S. forces leave the country, several Iraqi officials have expressed interest in
additional major arms purchases from Russia, including the S-400 air defense system, with some
indicating that at least preliminary talks have been held.71 Iraq has purchased military unmanned
aerial vehicles from China, but U.S. officials reported in June 2019 that most of these systems
were not operational. Iraq has also finalized major arms purchases from smaller suppliers, such as

67 Ellen Ioanes and Lara Seligman, “Iraqi F-16s Could Be in Jeopardy Amid Iran Tensions,” Foreign Policy, January
30, 2020; Hollie McKay, “Billions wasted? Iraqi pilots claim pricey F-16 program is falling apart,” Fox News, August
26, 2020.
68 “USA and France dramatically increase major arms exports; Saudi Arabia is largest importer,” op. cit.
69 Suadad al-Salhy, “Iraq scraps $4.2 billion Russian arms deal, cites graft,” Reuters, November 10, 2012.
70 “Iraq Receives Final Mi-28 NE Military Helicopters From Russia,” The Moscow Times, June 29, 2016.
71 Ben Kesling and Brett Forrest, “Iraq Considers Purchase of Russian Air-Defense Missile System,” Wall Street
, January 10, 2020.
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South Korea and the Czech Republic; Iraq represents a top-three client for each country’s defense
Iraqi officials have acknowledged and welcomed Iranian military assistance and advice to their
national security forces since 2014, likening Iranian support to support received from other
foreign parties, including the United States. Iran also supplied some Shia militias that fought the
Islamic State alongside Iraqi forces, and
reportedly arms some forces that operate
Iraqi Arms at a Glance:
outside the official Iraqi command structure.
Select Platforms and Procurements
However, Iraq does not appear to have
purchased major weapons systems from Iran.
Fixed-wing combat aircraft: 34 F-16s (US), 18 Su-
25s (Russia), 10 L-159As (Czech Republic), 4 AC-208Bs
Annex B of UNSCR 2231, which endorsed
the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action
Fixed-wing transport aircraft: 3 C-130Es, 6 An-32s
(JCPOA, or Iran nuclear deal), banned Iran
(Ukraine), 6 C-130J-30s
from selling arms.72 The U.N. Security
Rotary-wing combat aircraft: 30 Bell 407s
Council considers that ban to have expired as
(Canada/US), 24 Mi-24s (Russia), 15 Mi-28s (Russia)
scheduled on October 18, 2020, although the
Air defense: 24 Pantsyr systems (Russia)
Trump Administration asserts that it has
Navy: patrol craft (Italy, U.S., China)
invoked a provision of Resolution 2231 that
Artillery: 24 155 mm self-propel ed howitzers (US)
reimposes all U.N. sanctions on Iran,
Armored vehicles: 255 battle tanks (Czech Republic,
including the ban. For more, see CRS In
US, USSR, France, Italy), 1000+ APCs (US, Ukraine,
Focus IF11429, U.N. Ban on Iran Arms
USSR, UK, Pakistan)
Transfers and Sanctions Snapback, by
Total value of all DSCA FMS notifications since
Kenneth Katzman.
2010: $33.7 bil ion
Top Five Suppliers, 2000-2019: United States
As the U.S. role and presence in Iraq shifts,
(51.7%), Russia (26.3%), South Korea (4.7%), Ukraine
with the possibility of further military
(3.4%), and Italy (2.6%).
reductions, the structure and terms of U.S.
security assistance may become an issue of greater prominence in the bilateral relationship.
Reflecting Iraq’s needs, current fiscal difficulties, and status as a major oil exporter, the United
States blends U.S.-funded programming with lending and credit guarantees. Recent FMF
assistance to Iraq has supported the cost of U.S. FMF loans and supports ongoing security
cooperation. In addition, the sale of U.S. arms to the forces of the Kurdistan Regional
Government (KRG) has been approved by Iraqi national government authorities, but sales to both
entities could fuel tensions if KRG-Baghdad relations sour. U.S. officials assess that Iraq is
increasingly capable of operating independently against internal threats posed by the Islamic
State, but Iraq continues to have military capability deficits relative to some of its neighbors and
extra-regional powers.
As with a number of other Middle East partners, Iraq’s human rights record has been a subject of
concern for some Members of Congress. The competence of the Iraqi military in the face of the
Islamic State’s 2014 offensive, when thousands of U.S.-supplied items were captured by IS

72 In February 2014, it was reported that Iraq had agreed, in November 2013, to purchase approximately $200 million
worth of weapons (including mortars, ammunition, and light and medium arms) from Iran, allegedly spurred by
frustration on the part of then-Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki about the slow pace of deliveries from the United States.
Some observers viewed the deal, which appeared to violate a then-operative U.N. ban on the sale of Iranian weapons to
any other state (UNSCR 1747), as both a message to the United States and a bid for greater support from Iran. Ahmed
Rasheed, “Exclusive: Iraq signs deal to buy arms, ammunition from Iran – documents,” Reuters, February 24, 2014.
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fighters to be turned on Iraqi forces, other anti-IS fighters, and civilians, also has attracted
additional scrutiny (see “End-Use Monitoring (EUM)”).
Citing concerns about alienating other Middle Eastern states and spurring a regional arms race,
the United States was a limited arms supplier to Israel during its first two decades of existence.73
Israel relied mostly on France for its heavy weaponry, but it also employed some U.S. weapons,
including tanks.
It was not until Israel’s victory against multiple Soviet-backed Arab states in the 1967 Six Day
War that the United States began to reconsider the nature of its support. President Lyndon B.
Johnson secured the sale of F-4 Phantom fighters to Israel in 1968, and the U.S. quadrupled its
aid after the 1973 Yom Kippur War, during which the U.S. airlifted thousands of tons of defense
equipment (including M60 tanks) to Israel. Some have traced U.S. support in part to the growing
organization and effectiveness of U.S. domestic Israel advocacy groups starting in the 1970s.74

Figure 5. Arms Suppliers to Israel
Value and Rank, by Supplier, 2000-2019

Source: Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), importer/exporter total trend-indicator value
(TIV) tables. Figure created by CRS.
Israeli military imports—particularly in the realm of fighter aircraft and missile/missile defense
technology—remain almost exclusively American (see Figure 5). U.S. arms exports, funded at
least in part by large amounts of U.S. aid, help maintain Israel’s military advantage over its
neighbors (see “Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge” below), a reflection of the depth and breadth
of U.S.-Israel ties. Moreover, Israel in 2017 became the first country outside the United States to
receive F-35s, which Israel has since reportedly used in airstrikes in Syria.75 The probability of

73 See Dennis Ross, Doomed to Succeed: The U.S.-Israel Relationship from Truman to Obama (Farrar, Straus and
Giroux, 2015), pp. 43-50.
74 See, for example, Michael Oren, Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East, 1776 to the Present
(Norton, 2007), p. 536.
75 Yaakov Lappin, “Israeli F-35s to be declared operational in December,” IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, June 22, 2017.
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continued Israeli reliance on U.S. weapons and defense technology was demonstrated in the
memorandum of understanding (MOU) the two countries concluded in September 2016. Under
the terms of that MOU, which is the third between the two countries, the executive branch
committed to request that Congress provide $38 billion in military aid over 10 years, from
FY2019 to FY2028. (For more information on the MOU and its terms, see CRS Report RL33222,
U.S. Foreign Aid to Israel, by Jeremy M. Sharp.) The U.S. was responsible for 78% of Israel’s
arms imports from 2015 through 2019, with Germany and Italy following behind.
Israel has an active and growing indigenous arms industry, the development of which has been
subsidized in part by U.S. support. Since FY1984, Israel has been allowed to spend a portion of
its U.S. Foreign Military Financing (FMF) assistance on arms produced by Israeli manufacturers
(known as Off-Shore Procurement, or OSP).76 Israel is unique in this regard—no other FMF
recipient can use any of the FMF for domestic procurement.
Although breaking out the exact role of U.S.
Israeli Arms at a Glance:
OSP funding in the development of the Israeli
Select Platforms and Procurements
arms industry is difficult, Israel’s defense
Fixed-wing combat aircraft: 59 F-15s (US), 219 F-
contractors have become competitive with
16s (US), 20 F-35s (US)
other global leaders: from 2015 to 2019, Israel
Fixed-wing transport aircraft: 7 C-130J-30s, 14 C-
was the world’s 8th highest arms exporter, not
130s, 8 Boeing 707s (US)
far behind such traditional suppliers as the
Rotary-wing combat aircraft: 45 AH-64 Apaches
United Kingdom, supplying nations such as
India, Azerbaijan, and Vietnam. Some
Air defense: 4 Patriot batteries (US); 10 Iron Dome
observers have raised concerns, going back to
batteries (US/Israel), David’s Sling (US/Israel, unknown
number) Arrow I and Arrow II (US/Israel)
the late 1970s, about possible Israeli violations
of the conditions under which U.S. assistance
Navy: 5 submarines (Germany), 38 fast-attack craft (10
missile, 28 gun; Israel), 3 missile corvettes (US/Israel)
is provided, including the potentially
Artillery: 350 155 mm self-propelled howitzers (US)
unauthorized retransfer of U.S.-provided
Armored vehicles: 1,030 battle tanks (Israel/US), 385
weapons to third-party states.77
Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs, US/Israel)
Total value of all Defense Security Cooperation
Agency (DSCA) Foreign Military Sales (FMS)
notifications since 2010:
$9.6 bil ion
Located between its larger and more powerful
Top Five Suppliers, 2000-2019: United States
neighbors Iran and Saudi Arabia, both of
(81.8%), Germany (15.3%), Italy (2.6%), Canada (0.2%),
which have sought to exert significant
and France (0.1%).
influence over Qatar’s regional relationships,
Qatar has sought to solidify its relationship with the United States. According to one source,
Qatar views U.S. support as “adequate compensation for appearing too close an ally to

76 See, for example, Department of Defense Office of the Inspector General Report No. 97-028, “Israeli Use of
Offshore Procurement Funds,” November 22, 1996, at Under the
terms of the MOU for U.S. military aid to Israel for FY2009-FY2018, that level was set at 26.3%, which is around
$815 million of its FMF allocation of $3.1 billion. However, OSP will be phased out by FY2028 (with the phase-out
beginning in FY2024) under the terms of the new MOU signed in September 2016. The September 2016 MOU reduces
funding for OSP from $815 million in FY2019 to $450 million in FY2025 to $0 in FY2028. For more information, see
CRS Report RL33222, U.S. Foreign Aid to Israel, by Jeremy M. Sharp.
77 Duncan Clarke, “Israel’s Unauthorized Arms Transfers,” Foreign Policy 99, Summer 1995; Ila L. Hahn, “Managing
U.S. Military Technology and Arms Release Policy to Israel,” Air Command and Staff College Air University Maxwell
Air Force Base, Alabama, April 2009. For more, see CRS Report RL33222, U.S. Foreign Aid to Israel, by Jeremy M.
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Washington.”78 Qatar has had a formal defense cooperation agreement with the United States
since 1992; the agreement was renewed for 10 years in December 2013.79 Qatar hosts the United
States’ 379th air expeditionary wing and a number of other U.S. and coalition assets at Al Udeid
Air Base, including U.S. Central Command’s (CENTCOM) Combined Air Operations Center.
Figure 6. Arms Suppliers to Qatar
Value and Rank, by Supplier, 2000-2019

Source: Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), importer/exporter total trend-indicator value
(TIV) tables. Figure created by CRS.
Despite its small size and population, Qatar is increasingly recognized as an influential regional
player, due in no small part to the growing array of military assets its considerable resource
wealth allows it to obtain. France was traditionally Qatar’s main arms provider, with hundreds of
millions of dollars in weapons provided throughout the 1980s and 1990s. However, prior France-
Qatar deals were surpassed and possibly superseded by a 2015 announcement that Qatar and the
Qatari Arms at a Glance:
Select Platforms and Procurements
Fixed-wing combat aircraft: 9 Mirage 2000s (France), 23 Rafales
Fixed-wing transport aircraft: 8 C-17As (US), 4 C-130J-30s (US)

78 “Qatar- External Affairs,” Jane’s Sentinel Security Assessment – The Gulf States, August 7, 2017.
79 Before the close U.S.-Qatar relationship developed, the two countries contended with one another in the late 1980s
when Qatar rejected U.S. demands that it return Stinger missiles that it had obtained on the black market from Iran,
which had in turn captured the missiles from anti-Soviet Afghan fighters transiting Iran. Qatar’s desire for Stinger
missiles reportedly stemmed from U.S. plans to sell the missiles to Bahrain, with which Qatar had a border dispute until
2001. Michael Wines and Doyle McManus, “Gulf State of Qatar Gets Missiles,” Los Angeles Times, March 31, 1988;
Elaine Sciolino, “Qatar Rejects U.S. Demand for Return of Illicit Stingers,” New York Times, June 28, 1988. In
response, Congress included in the FY1989 Foreign Operations appropriations bill (P.L. 100-461) a provision
(§566(d)) banning any U.S. arms agreements with Qatar until the president notified relevant congressional committees
that the missiles had been returned. That provision was repealed in the FY1991 measure (P.L. 101-513, § 568(b)),
passed in late 1990 in the run up to the Gulf War.
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United States were proposing to
Rotary-wing combat aircraft: 11 SA 342 Gazelles (international),
enter into a transaction for up to 72
7 AH-64s (US)
F-15QA aircraft worth over $21
Air defense: 10 Patriot PAC-3 batteries (US)
billion; a letter of offer and
Navy: 7 fast-attack craft – missile (France, UK)
acceptance for 36 jets, worth $12
Artillery: 22 155 mm self-propel ed howitzers (France)
billion, was signed in June 2017.
Armored vehicles: 70 battle tanks (Germany, France), 188 APCs
The F-15QAs, in addition to 24
(US, France)
Eurofighter Typhoons (announced
Total value of all DSCA FMS notifications since 2010: $47.9
in December 2017, with deliveries
bil ion
expected in 2022) and 36 French
Top Five Suppliers, 2000-2019: United States (52.9%), France
Rafales (deliveries ongoing through
(30.7%), Germany (7.7%), Italy (2.3%), and China (2%).
2022), are likely to dramatically
boost Qatari air capabilities (see

Figure 6). One analysis describes
the boost as “overdue and overambitious,” given Qatar’s evident intent to strike a course
independent from its neighbors and the challenge that training and sustaining such a large force
may present.80
Recent deals with Qatar are emblematic of another factor important to U.S. military operations:
interoperability. Reportedly, one of the reasons Qatar wanted to buy U.S. fighters to partially
replace its French-made Mirages, “was because they discovered how difficult it was for their
existing fighter aircraft to fly with the U.S. air force as part of coalitions over Libya and Syria.”81
Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia has been one of the largest purchasers of U.S. arms by value and volume, though
decades of U.S.-Saudi weapons transactions have at times been accompanied by public
controversy and vigorous congressional debate.
The Obama and Trump Administrations have notified Congress of proposed arms sales with a
potential aggregate value of more than $120 billion from 2009 to the present, reflecting the
putative importance of Saudi Arabia to U.S. strategy in the Middle East. The technologically
advanced and often historic amounts of arms transfers both reflect and reinforce U.S.-Saudi ties.
The relationship has been challenged by historic differences such as official Saudi animosity to
Israel (which has declined somewhat); more recent tensions include U.S. concerns regarding
Saudi domestic governance, actions with regard to international terrorism, and the kingdom’s
regional power projection (such as the war in Yemen).

80 Qatar – Air Force, Jane’s, last updated April 16, 2020.
81 Andrew Exum, “What Progressives Miss About Arms Sales,” Atlantic, May 23, 2017.
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Figure 7. Arms Suppliers to Saudi Arabia
Value and Rank, by Supplier, 2000-2019

Source: Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), importer/exporter total trend-indicator value
(TIV) tables. Figure created by CRS.
Though the United States remains Saudi Arabia’s largest arms provider (see Figure 7), the
kingdom has tried to diversify its arms sources, including through a concerted effort in recent
years to expand its own defense industrial base. In May 2017, shortly before President Trump’s
visit, then-Deputy Crown Prince (and now
Crown Prince) Mohammed bin Salman
Saudi Arms at a Glance:
announced the creation of a government-
Select Platforms and Procurements
owned company called Saudi Arabian
Fixed-wing combat aircraft: 150 F-15s (US), 67
Military Industries (SAMI) to manage
Tornados (Europe), 71 Typhoons (Europe)
production of air and land systems, weapons
Fixed-wing transport aircraft: 47 C-130s (US), 4
and missiles, and defense electronics
CN235s (Spain)
(perhaps in imitation of the UAE’s much
Rotary-wing combat aircraft: 47 AH-64 Apaches (US)
more established state arms conglomerate,
Air defense: Patriot PAC-2 (US)
the Emirates Defense Industries Company
Navy: 9 fast-attack craft (US), 7 frigates (France), 4
or EDIC; more below). The establishment of
missile corvettes (US)
SAMI represents a step toward the
Artillery: 161 155 mm self-propelled howitzers (US)
government’s goal that 50% of Saudi
Armored vehicles: 833 battle tanks (US), 1850 APCs
military procurement spending be domestic
(UK, France)
by 2030.82 Several parts of a potentially
Total value of all DSCA FMS notifications since
high-value package of arms sales announced
2010: $133.9 bil ion
during the President’s May 2017 visit
Top Five Suppliers, 2000-2019: United States (60.6%),
include arrangements for the actual
U.K. (18.2%), France (8.4%), Spain (2.3%), and Germany
production of certain items to be carried out
in Saudi Arabia. For example, a $6 billion
agreement between Lockheed Martin and the Saudi Technology Development and Investment

82 Shuja al-Baqmi, “Saudi Arabia Launches ‘SAMI’ for Military Industries,” Asharq Al-Aqsat, May 18, 2017.
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Company (known by its Arabic acronym, TAQNIA) includes plans for the assembly of 150
Blackhawk helicopters in Saudi Arabia.83
U.S. reluctance or inability to share sensitive military technology has periodically opened
opportunities for other suppliers like Russia, with which Saudi Arabia reportedly has engaged in
talks regarding a potential purchase of the S-400 air defense system (see “CAATSA: Possible
Sanctions on Purchasers of Russian Weapons,”
below). China has also contemplated greater arms
sales to Saudi Arabia, partly a legacy of its reported covert ballistic missile sales to Saudi Arabia
in the 1980s.84 On a state visit to Beijing in March 2017, King Salman and President Xi Jinping
signed a series of agreements worth $60 billion, including a deal to construct a Chinese factory in
the kingdom that will manufacture military UAS for Saudi Arabia’s expanding drone fleet.85
Saudi Arabia has deployed armed Chinese-made drones in Yemen.
U.S. arms are central to the UAE’s growing military capabilities (see Figure 8); major sales from
the United States include the purchase of 80 F-16s in 2000 and an additional 30 in 2014.86
Moreover, the UAE’s purchase of the THAAD missile defense system, initially proposed in 2008
and approved in late 2011, represented the first sale of the system abroad. However, like its close
ally Saudi Arabia, the UAE appears to be attempting both to diversify its sources of arms imports
and build up domestic production capacity, partly in response to concerns about U.S. policy.

83 “Saudi-US arms deal includes plans for 150 Lockheed Martin Black Hawk helicopters,” Arab News, May 20, 2017.
84 Reportedly, China covertly sold ballistic missiles to Saudi Arabia in the 1980s. Richard Strauss, “Saudi Arabia’s
Chinese Missiles: Another Log on the Middle East Fire,” Los Angeles Times, April 10, 1988.
85 “China’s Saudi drone factory compensates for US ban,” Middle East Eye, March 29, 2017; Ian Armstrong, “What’s
Behind China’s Big New Drone Deal?” The Diplomat, April 20, 2017.
86 Wade Boese, “U.A.E. to Receive 80 F-16s With Features More Advanced Than Similar U.S. Jets,” Arms Control
, April 1, 2000; Rajiv Chandrasekaran, “In the UAE, the United States has a quiet, potent ally nicknamed ‘Little
Sparta,” Washington Post, November 9, 2014.
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Figure 8. Arms Suppliers to UAE
Value and Rank, by Supplier, 2000-2019

Source: Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), importer/exporter total trend-indicator value
(TIV) tables. Figure created by CRS.
In response to previous U.S. reluctance to sell the UAE long-sought F-35s due to concerns about
Israeli security,87 the Emiratis evidently had started looking elsewhere, specifically Russia, for
advanced combat aircraft. Media reporting indicates that the two nations signed an agreement in
the spring of 2017 to develop a fifth-generation fighter jet, along with a separate purchase by the
UAE of Russian Sukhoi Su-35 fighters.88 Some speculated that the UAE’s engagement with
Russia was intended to gain U.S. concessions on F-35s or other possible transactions due to U.S.
concerns regarding Russia-UAE arms dealings.89 In November 2020, several months after Israel
and the UAE announced an agreement to normalize their relations, the Trump Administration
notified Congress of its intent to sell the UAE up to 50 F-35s, along with $10 billion in munitions
(see “Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge (QME),” below).

87 Andrea Shalal-Esa and William Maclean, “Gulf buyers eye future purchases of Lockheed’s F-35 jet,” Reuters,
November 21, 2013.
88 Andrew O’Reilly, “Russian sale of fighter jets to UAE highlights shift toward Kremlin amid U.S. hesitancy,” Fox
, March 2, 2017.
89 Tony Osborne, “UAE Leaning to Russia Could Be Price of U.S. Arms Sale Inaction,” Aviation Week & Space
, February 27, 2017.
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In addition, after having been rebuffed in its
UAE Arms at a Glance:
attempts to purchase armed drones from the
Select Platforms and Procurements
United States, the UAE reportedly purchased
Fixed-wing combat aircraft: 79 F-16s (US), 59
Chinese surveillance drones which it has
Mirage 2000s (France)
outfitted with targeting systems and operated
Fixed-wing transport aircraft: 8 C-130s (US), 7
CN235s (Spain), 8 C-17As (US)
in Libya and Yemen.90 In November 2020,
Rotary-wing combat aircraft: 18 AS 550 Fennecs
alongside the F-35 notification, the Trump
(Europe), 30 407 MRHs (U.S./Canada), 19 AH-64
Administration formally proposed selling up
Apaches (US), 12 AS 350s (France)
to 18 MQ-9 Reaper drones to the UAE.
Air defense: 2 THAAD batteries (US)
In terms of its indigenous arms industry, the
Navy: 9 corvettes (Germany, UAE, Italy), 26 fast-
UAE has been described as “the most
attack craft (Germany, UAE)
promising of the Arab candidates seeking to
Artillery: 165 155 mm self-propelled howitzers (US)
gain emerging arms producer status.”91
Armored vehicles: 502 battle tanks (France, Italy),
Established in 2014 from the consolidation of
682 APCs (Turkey, France, Spain, Finland/Poland)
a number of state-owned firms, the Emirates
Total value of all DSCA FMS notifications since
$23.7 bil ion
Defense Industries Company (EDIC)
represents an attempt not just to become less
Top Five Suppliers, 2000-2019: United States
(52.7%), France (25.8%), Russia (5%), Italy (2.5%), and
reliant on foreign suppliers, but also to
Spain (1.8%).
diversify the Emirates’ still largely
hydrocarbon-based economy. Some observers
point out that “domestic demand and consumption will dominate the formative years of
indigenous industrial development,”92 but already EDIC has signed contracts with foreign
customers from Algeria to Russia to Kuwait.93 The use of UAE equipment, including locally
made armored vehicles, assault rifles, and personnel carriers, has figured prominently in the
Saudi-led coalition’s war in Yemen. The UAE is also active in Libya, where it has reportedly
operated drones and attack helicopters, perhaps in violation of a U.N. arms embargo.94
U.S. Policy and Potential Issues for Congress
The countries above and their respective approaches to arms acquisitions affect U.S. foreign
policy objectives and congressional interests in multiple ways. This section outlines related issues
that Congress may consider via the legislative process (including authorization and
appropriations) and/or oversight.
Congressional Oversight: May 2019 Emergency Arms Sales
On May 24, 2019, the Trump Administration formally notified Congress of immediate foreign
military sales and proposed export licenses for direct commercial sales of training, equipment,
and weapons with a possible value of more than $8 billion, including sales of precision guided

90 Jeremy Page and Paul Sonne, “Unable to Buy U.S. Military Drones, Allies Place Orders With China,” Wall Street
, July 17, 2017; “How the UAE’s Chinese-made drone is changing the war in Yemen,” Foreign Policy, April
27, 2018.
91 Florence Gaub and Zoe Stanley-Lockman, “Defence industries in Arab states: players and strategies,” European
Union Institute for Security Studies, Chaillot Paper No. 141, March 2017.
92 Theodore Karasik and Adam Dempsey, “UAE Struggling to Build World Class Defense Industry?” Lexington
Institute, April 26, 2017.
93 Zoe Stanley-Lockman, “The UAE’s Defense Horizons,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, May 2, 2017.
94 Aidan Lewis, “Covert Emirati support gave East Libyan air power key boost: U.N. report,” Reuters, June 9, 2017.
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munitions (PGMs) to Saudi Arabia and the UAE, and the transfer of PGMs by the UAE to Jordan.
Other notified sales include F-15 Engines and Support for Saudi Arabia and Javelin Anti-Tank
Missiles and Patriot Guidance Enhanced Missiles for the UAE.
In making the notifications, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo invoked emergency authority
codified in sections 36(b)(l), 36(c)(2), 36(d)(2), and 3(d)(2) of the Arms Export Control Act
(AECA), as amended (22 U.S.C. 2776). The AECA provides for 15- and 30-day congressional
review periods for arms sales, leases, and transfers meeting specific value and recipient criteria.95
However, if the President states in a formal notification to Congress that “an emergency exists”
requiring the sale, export license, or technical assistance and manufacturing license of arms and
related materiel, “in the national security interests of the United States,” that notification waives
the requirements for congressional review. The President is then free to proceed with the sale,
export, or licensing. The President must provide Congress at the time of this notification a
“detailed justification” for his/her determination. In at least five other cases, past Administrations
have used AECA emergency authorities to immediately sell arms to foreign partners, at times
generating debate in Congress over the cases in question and the broader availability and use of
the authorities by the executive branch.96
The arms sales to Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Jordan came amid heightened U.S.-Iranian tensions
and renewed attacks by the Yemen-based Houthis against Saudi infrastructure.97 In the
justification for the use of emergency authority under the AECA, Secretary of State Pompeo
wrote to Congress that:
Iranian malign activity poses a fundamental threat to the stability of the Middle East and
to American security at home and abroad…. The rapidly evolving security situation in the
region requires an accelerated delivery of certain capabilities to U.S. partners in the
region…. Such transfers, whether provided via the Foreign Military Sales system, or
through the licensing of Direct Commercial Sales, must occur as quickly as possible in
order to deter further Iranian adventurism in the Gulf and throughout the Middle East.
Some Members expressed support for the proposed sales, while others reacted with statements of
On June 12, 2019, the House Foreign Affairs Committee held a hearing to examine the sales. In
his opening statement, Chairman Eliot Engel described the invocation as “an abuse of authority”
and an attempt by the Administration to “cut Congress out of the picture.” He argued that the
emergency described by the Administration was “phony,” saying that
...a real emergency would require weapons that can be delivered immediately. If you need
them right now you want weapons that can be delivered immediately, not months or even
years from now as these do. A real emergency would require weapons that have already

95 For more background on congressional review procedures, see CRS Report RL31675, Arms Sales: Congressional
Review Process
, by Paul K. Kerr and CRS In Focus IF11197, U.S. Arms Sales and Human Rights: Legislative Basis
and Frequently Asked Questions
, by Paul K. Kerr and Liana W. Rosen.
96 The AECA emergency authority was invoked once by the Carter Administration, to sell arms to Saudi-backed North
Yemen in 1979; once by the Reagan Administration, to sell missile systems to Saudi Arabia in 1984; twice by the
George H. W. Bush Administration, first to sell tanks and aircraft to Saudi Arabia in 1990, then to sell a Patriot fire unit
to Israel and repair parts and logistical support services to Saudi Arabia in 1991; and once by the George W. Bush
Administration, to export Sentinel radar assemblies and related equipment to the U.S. Armed Forces in Kuwait in 2003.
97 For more, see CRS In Focus IF11212, U.S.-Iran Tensions Escalate, by Kenneth Katzman.
98 See, for example, Senator Tom Cotton, Senate debate, Congressional Record, vol. 165, No. 99 (June 13, 2019), pp.
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been built and are relevant to whatever the immediate threat is. A real emergency would
not justify building new factories in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to
manufacture weapons that have been built in the United States for years and years. A real
emergency would not be followed by our Defense secretary telling us the threat has now
The sole witness, Assistant Secretary of State for Political and Military Affairs R. Clarke Cooper,
defended the emergency invocation in a number of ways. First, he pointed to various acts of
aggression attributed, either directly or via its proxies, to Iran by the Administration, as well as an
uptick in classified “threat streams” tracked by U.S. intelligence. Cooper also described as
“equally important” the need to “[reassure] our partners that we have not abandoned them or that
we have left them to carry the full load of responsibility in the region,” citing various
coproduction arrangements included in some of the emergency sales. Finally, Cooper implied that
an informal hold placed in 2018 by Senator Robert Menendez on the notification of planned
direct commercial sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates was partially responsible
for the Administration choosing to invoke the emergency authority.100 Under established inter-
branch arrangements, the Trump Administration had respected Senator Menendez’s objection and
abstained from proceeding with the formal notification of the sales, which would have triggered a
formal thirty day review period. Assistant Secretary Cooper argued that the Administration was
no longer willing or able to do so, in part because, in its view: “the protracted process did
contribute to the conditions that necessitated the emergency.”
Some Members expressed skepticism of the Administration’s explanation of the emergency
invocation, and several Members asked the witness questions about the fact that some systems
notified for sale in May 2019 might not be delivered for months if not years. According to a State
Department Office of Inspector General (OIG) report obtained and made public by Politico in
August 2020, the value of the $8.1 billion package is about evenly divided between direct
commercial sales and foreign military sales (14 cases worth $4.2 billion and 8 cases worth $3.9
billion, respectively).101 The OIG report states that, as of the time of its review, foreign partners
had taken delivery of 4 of 22 cases (including precision-guided munitions), including $20 million
of the $3.9 billion in potential foreign military sales. Furthermore, the OIG report relays an
estimate from the State Department that delivery on 5 of 22 cases would not begin until 2020.
The OIG also reports that Department staff first proposed invoking the emergency authority on
April 3, 2020, in response to a directive from Secretary Pompeo to expedite arms transfers on
which Members of Congress had placed informal holds (15 of 22 cases were under such holds).102

99 CQ Congressional Transcripts, “House Foreign Affairs Committee Holds Hearing on Emergency Arms Sales,” June
12, 2019.
100 See Senator Menendez Letter to Secretary of State Pompeo and Secretary of Defense James Mattis, June 28, 2018.
Available at
101 Jacqueline Feldscher and Nahal Toosi, “State Department did not consider civilian casualties when sending arms to
Middle East, report finds,” Politico, August 11, 2020. Report is available at
102 After President Trump removed State Department Inspector General Steve Linick from office on May 15, 2020,
reports emerged that Linick had been looking into issues surrounding the May 2019 emergency determination. Press
reports alleged that Linick’s investigation suggested that Secretary Pompeo had “disregarded…high-level officials” in
the Administration who advised against it. Lara Seligman, et. al., “Senior officials advised against emergency arms
sales to Saudis,” Politico, May 20, 2020. After a seven-hour interview with Linick on June 3, several House committee
heads released a statement saying that Linick had testified that Secretary Pompeo had refused an interview with Linick
about the case, and that Linick had faced inappropriate pressure to drop the investigation. U.S. House Committee on
Foreign Affairs, Engel, Maloney, Menendez, Connolly & Castro Statement on IG Linick’s Interview, June 3, 2020. In
response, Secretary Pompeo called Linick a “bad actor” whose work did not improve the Department. Michelle
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Legislative Responses. On June 5, 2019, a bipartisan group of seven senators introduced 22
separate Joint Resolutions of Disapproval against the sales. One cosponsor, Sen. Lindsey Graham
(R-SC), expressed in a statement his concern about “the precedent these arms sales would set by
having the Administration go around legitimate concerns of Congress.”103 On June 20, the Senate
passed three measures to disapprove of (a) the proposed coproduction and manufacture of
Paveway PGMs in Saudi Arabia (S.J.Res. 36); (b) the sale of Paveway PGMs to Saudi Arabia
(S.J.Res. 38); and (c) the other 20 sales notified on May 24 (20 resolutions en bloc) by margins of
53-45, 53-45, and 51-45, respectively. The House passed three of the resolutions on July 17; the
three resolutions were vetoed on July 24 by President Trump, who cited the threat posed by
Iranian support to Yemeni’s Houthi movement and described Saudi Arabia and the UAE each as a
“bulwark against the malign activities of Iran and its proxies in the region.” A simple majority of
Senators voted to override President Trump’s vetoes on July 29, but the required two-thirds
majority was not reached and the sales were able to proceed.
On June 18, the House voted to approve an amendment to the FY2020 Defense Appropriations
Act (H.Amdt. 371 to Division C of H.R. 2740) to prohibit the use of funds made available by the
Act for the issuance of export licenses for any defense article or service named in the 22
emergency sale notifications. The amendment was included in the House-passed version of the
bill as Section 11005. That provision, however, was not included in the FY2020 Defense
Appropriations Act signed into law in December 2019 (Division A of H.R. 1158).104
Beyond attempts to block the specific emergency sales notified in May 2019, some Members
have considered and proposed changes to the underlying authority in the AECA. In the June 12,
2019, House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing, Chairman Engel suggested that Members “have
to strongly consider changing the Arms Export Control Act’s emergency provision.”
In the Senate, Senator Menendez proposed an amendment to the FY2020 National Defense
Authorization Act (S.Amdt. 295 to S. 1790) that would have changed the AECA’s emergency
provisions in several ways. First, emergency sales could only be made to NATO member states
and five other close U.S. allies (including Israel), and could not be made to any countries engaged
in significant transactions with the Russian defense sector. Second, the president would have to
submit with the emergency determination a detailed explanation of how the waiver “directly
responds to or addresses the circumstances of the emergency cited in the determination.” Lastly,
emergency sales would only be permitted if they “directly respond to or counter a physical
security threat” and if 75% of the sale is delivered within two months of the determination.
Senator Menendez introduced another amendment (S.Amdt. 296) that would have immediately
terminated all emergency determination-related arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE, and
amended the AECA in the same way as S.Amdt. 295. Neither measure was included in the final
FY2020 NDAA, nor were similar measures included in the House- or Senate-passed version of
the FY2021 NDAA. Senator Menendez also introduced the Saudi Arabia False Emergencies Act
(or the SAFE Act, S.1945), the text of which is identical to S.Amdt. 295 (except for the Russian
defense sector-related provision) in June 2019; it was reported by the Senate Foreign Relations
Committee, but no floor vote has been scheduled or held. House Rules Chairman Jim McGovern

Kelemen, “Ex-State Department Inspector General Says He Was Given No Valid Reason When Fired,” NPR, June 10,
2020. Linick was succeeded by Stephen Akard, who himself resigned in August 2020, shortly before the OIG report
mentioned above was transmitted to Congress; a temporary OIG, Matthew Klimow, was announced in September
103 Joe Gould, “Graham, Menendez offer action to thwart Trump arms sales to Saudi, UAE and Jordan,” Defense News,
June 5, 2019.
104 See Kylie Atwood, “Defense spending bill stripped of proposals that would have been tough on Saudi Arabia,
sources say,” CNN, December 13, 2019.
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proposed an amendment to the FY2021 National Defense Authorization Act (House Rules
Committee Amendment 582) that would have limited the emergency authority to items delivered
within two months and to items produced in the United States, but the amendment was not made
in order for consideration on the floor.
Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge (QME)
The term “qualitative military edge” (QME) was embraced by the Reagan Administration and its
successors to refer to the advantage in military technology that Israel, with a smaller territory and
population than some of its historical adversaries, seeks to maintain.105 The concept stems from
traditional security concerns about Israel’s Arab neighbors, with whom Israel engaged in
numerous conflicts over the course of several decades. No formal definition in law existed until
lawmakers codified U.S. support for Israel’s QME as U.S. policy in 2008 (P.L. 110-429, §201).106
That legislation requires that any proposed U.S. arms sale to “any country in the Middle East
other than Israel” must include a notification to Congress with a “determination that the sale or
export of such would not adversely affect Israel’s qualitative military edge over military threats to
Israel.” It defines QME as
the ability to counter and defeat any credible conventional military threat from any
individual state or possible coalition of states or from non-state actors, while sustaining
minimal damages and casualties, through the use of superior military means, possessed in
sufficient quantity, including weapons, command, control, communication, intelligence,
surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities that in their technical characteristics are
superior in capability to those of such other individual or possible coalition of states or
non-state actors.
During its review of several planned sales over the years, Congress has considered Israeli
concerns about arms transfers to some Arab states, including a 1981 sale of Airborne Warning and
Control System (AWACS) surveillance planes (which ultimately occurred) and a 1986 effort to
sell several classes of missiles, both to Saudi Arabia. Additionally, Israeli concerns over plans to
sell certain precision-guided weapons to Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf states delayed a
major arms sales package that the George W. Bush Administration contemplated in 2007.107
Israel views Iran as a top security challenge, a view shared by Saudi Arabia and other historic
Israeli adversaries in the region. Still, concerns about Israeli security have influenced
consideration of potential U.S. arms agreements in recent years. Some suggested that “Israel
sought to leverage” a large sale of F-15s to Qatar in 2016 to boost the amount of military
assistance it was negotiating with the United States.108 The new U.S.-Israel 10-year memorandum
of understanding (MOU) was signed in September 2016; the State Department formally notified

105 In a 1981 statement for the record in response to questions from the House Appropriations Subcommittee on
Foreign Operations Appropriations, then-Secretary of State Alexander Haig said, “A central aspect of US policy since
the October 1973 war has been to ensure that Israel maintains a qualitative military edge.” Secretary of State Al Haig,
Statement for the Record submitted in response to Question from Hon. Clarence Long, House Appropriations
Subcommittee on Foreign Operations Appropriations, April 28, 1981.
106 Some have argued that the lack of a legal definition and “ambiguity on the part of multiple U.S. administrations”
may have been intentional.” William Wunderle and Andre Briere, “U.S. Foreign Policy and Israel’s Qualitative
Military Edge: The Need for a Common Vision,” Washington Institute for Near East Policy, January 2008.
107 David S. Cloud and Helene Cooper, “Israel’s Protests Are Said to Stall Gulf Arms Sale,” New York Times, April 5,
108 Julian Pecquet, “Will Congress pick Qatar over Israel?” Al-Monitor Congress Pulse, March 10, 2016. Then-Senate
Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker stated in July 2016 that “when the [long-term] MOU [for U.S. aid
to Israel] is completed, hopefully as part of that, or shortly thereafter, these sales [to Qatar] will be completed.”
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Congress about the Qatar sale on November 17, 2016. In addition, the large package of arms sales
to Saudi Arabia announced during President Trump’s May 2017 visit to the kingdom reportedly
raised Israeli anxieties, with advocacy groups voicing concern and several ministers suggesting
that the United States did not consult with Israel in advance.109 Still, opposition to the Saudi
proposal appeared muted in comparison to similar packages proposed in the past.110
The August 2020 announcement that Israel and the UAE have agreed to normalize relations,
followed by the September 2020 normalization of relations between Israel and Bahrain, has
implications for Israel’s QME and its impact on future U.S. arms transfers. Media reports indicate
that the United States, as part of negotiations over Israeli-UAE normalization, supported the sale
of a number of technologically advanced platforms to the UAE, most notably the F-35 but also
armed MQ-9 Reaper drones and EA-18G Growler jets.111 The UAE Minister of State for Foreign
Affairs said that the UAE’s desire for F-35s preceded the agreement with Israel by many years
and that, “We ought to get them…. And now the whole idea of, you know, a state of belligerency
or war with Israel will no longer exist. So I think it should be…easier.”112 Israeli Prime Minister
Binyamin Netanyahu denied reports that he had agreed not to oppose a U.S-UAE arms sale.
Despite continuing debate within Israel regarding such a sale in the context of the QME issue,
Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz issued a joint statement in October 2020, stating,
“Since the U.S. is upgrading Israel’s military capability and is maintaining Israel’s qualitative
military edge, Israel will not oppose the sale of these systems [F-35 and others] to the UAE.”113
On November 10, 2020, the State Department formally notified Congress of the Administration’s
intention to sell up to 50 F-35s, along with 18 MQ-9 drones and $10 billion in munitions, to the
Some who welcome the normalization of Israel-UAE ties have cautioned against the U.S. selling
F-35s to the UAE, warning that circumstances and regional dynamics can change, giving friends-
turned-adversaries access to advanced weaponry.114 Others emphasize the risk that further
dissemination of sensitive U.S. technology increases the odds of it falling into the wrong hands.115
For its part, Israel may conclude that it is a price worth paying for normalization and greater ties
with erstwhile regional foes.116
Given the precedent that the UAE acquiring the F-35 could set, potential implications also exist
for other regional states, including those that have some discreet ties with Israel. Such a precedent
could alter those states’ calculations regarding their own relations with Israel and their defense
relationships with the United States.117 Some Members of Congress have already spoken out

109 “Congress Must Examine Impact of Saudi Arms Sale,” American Israel Public Affairs Committee, May 30, 2017;
Barbara Opall-Rome, “US mega-deal to Saudi Arabia spurs concern in Israel.” Defense News, May 21, 2017.
110 Ron Kampeas, “Why are Israel, allies keeping mum on $110 billion US-Saudi Arms Deal?” Jerusalem Post, June 2,
111 Mark Mazetti, et al., “Netanhayu Privately Condoned U.S. Plan to Sell Arms to U.A.E., Officials Say,” New York
, September 3, 2020.
112 Transcript: A Conversation with H.E. Anwar Gargash, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Atlantic Council,
August 20, 2020.
113 “Israel will not Oppose U.S. Sale of F-35 to UAE,” Reuters, October 23, 2020.
114 “How an overpriced warplane complicates diplomacy in the Middle East,” Economist, September 12, 2020.
115 Ruth Eglash and Karen De Young, “Peace deal or arms race? Proposed sale of F-35 jets to UAE prompts fears in
Israel,” Washington Post, September 15, 2020.
116 “How an overpriced warplane complicates diplomacy in the Middle East,” op. cit.
117 Barbara Leaf and Dana Stroul, “The F-35 Triangle: America, Israel, the United Arab Emirates,” War on the Rocks,
September 15, 2020.
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against the sale, with one writing that, “a more militarized region is not safer for Israel or for U.S.
interests” and that, “Normalization with Israel cannot be a quid pro quo for access to advanced
weapons.”118 Some Members have also introduced legislation that would require the
Administration to submit certain reports or certifications related to Israel’s QME before selling
the F-35 to Middle Eastern states (see H.R. 8707 and S. 4814).
It is unclear what additional weaponry, materiel, or security guarantees Israel might seek as
“compensation” or in exchange for its acquiesce to a U.S.-UAE deal on F-35s.119 Agreement on a
potential sale could take months or even years, with delivery taking even longer. For more, see
CRS Report R46580, Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge and Possible U.S. Arms Sales to the
United Arab Emirates
, coordinated by Jeremy M. Sharp and Jim Zanotti.
Saudi-led Coalition Operations in Yemen and Civilian Casualties
Since March 2015, Saudi Arabia has led a coalition of partners in prosecuting a military campaign
in Yemen to reverse the ouster of Yemen’s transitional government by the Ansar Allah movement
(aka the Houthis). After five years, the conflict continues in some areas, including in and around
the northern port of Hudaydah—the country’s lifeline for food and fuel imports. According to the
Yemen Data Project, a non-governmental organization that compiles public reporting about the
conflict in Yemen, Saudi and coalition airstrikes increased in frequency in early 2020 to a two
year-high in June.120 Civilian casualties in the conflict were highest in 2015, and continue to
occur in connection with indiscriminate fire by Houthi forces, shelling by government of Yemen
and allied local forces, and, to a less frequent extent, Saudi and coalition airstrikes.
From 2015 onward, the number of Members of Congress expressing alarm increased as Saudi and
coalition airstrikes killed and injured Yemeni civilians and damaged civilian infrastructure. The
Royal Saudi Air Force and its coalition partners reportedly use U.S.-origin and European-origin
strike aircraft and air-to-ground munitions in many of their operations in Yemen. Some reports
have documented the use of U.S.-origin munitions in strikes that have killed and injured
civilians.121 Saudi officials have acknowledged shortcomings in their operations, and report that
they have adapted their tactics and operations for the express purpose of reducing civilian harm.
They place most of the blame for reported civilian deaths and difficult humanitarian conditions on
the activities of and threats posed by their adversaries.122
Congress has taken several steps in recent years to exercise additional oversight of the Saudi
military’s use of U.S.-origin air-to-ground munitions and other weapons in Yemen and to reject
proposed sales of additional U.S. munitions and other arms to the Saudi military.123 President
Trump has vetoed joint resolutions of disapproval, allowing arms sales to continue.

118 Debbie Wasserman Schultz, “Trump puts Israel’s security in danger with deal to sell fighter jets to United Arab
Emirates,” Miami Herald, September 5, 2020.
119 Nahum Barnea, “Israel to demand U.S. compensation over UAE warplanes sale,” Ynet, September 6, 2020.
120 Yemen Data Project, Airraids Timeline per Month, accessed November 2020.
121 For example, see Nima Elbagir, Salma Abdelaziz & Laura Smith-Spark, “Made in America --Shrapnel Found in
Yemen Ties US bombs to String of Civilian Deaths over Course of Bloody Civil War,” CNN, Sept. 18, 2018. Also, see
Situation of Human Rights in Yemen, Including Violations and Abuses since September 2014, Report of the Detailed
Findings of the Group of Eminent International and Regional Experts on Yemen, A/HRC/42/CRP.1, September 3,
122 See, for example, Remarks of Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al Jubeir, Council on Foreign
Relations, New York, NY, September 24, 2019.
123 CRS Report R45046, Congress and the War in Yemen: Oversight and Legislation 2015-2020, reviews these steps in
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In testimony before Congress, State Department and Defense Department officials have
acknowledged the occurrence of civilian casualties in Saudi and coalition airstrikes, while
reiterating that the United States has provided the Saudi-led coalition with training on targeting,
and has provided mentoring and advice on best practices to reduce civilian casualties.124 The
Trump Administration has argued that the supply to Saudi Arabia of more precise air-to-ground
munitions contributes to fewer civilian casualties than otherwise might occur. Prior to ending U.S.
refueling for Saudi and coalition aircraft operating over Yemen in November 2018,
Administration officials argued that such support improved the ability of partner forces to conduct
reconnaissance and avoid errant strikes.125
Questions Regarding Use of U.S. Arms
Since the start of the Saudi-led coalition intervention in Yemen in 2015, journalists, human rights
monitors, legal scholars, and some lawmakers have reported that the use of U.S.-supplied military
equipment by Saudi Arabia and the UAE may be in violation of specific provisions in the AECA
and the Foreign Assistance Act (FAA).126 The AECA and FAA prohibit the sale or delivery of
U.S.-origin defense articles if either the President (by determining such and reporting to
Congress) or Congress (by passing a joint resolution) finds that a recipient country has used such
articles “for a purpose not authorized.” Authorized purposes include internal security, legitimate
self-defense, impeding weapons of mass destruction proliferation, and participation in collective
measures requested by the United Nations or comparable organizations.127
Legal arguments regarding violations of U.S. law have centered on the idea that, while Saudi
Arabia and the internationally recognized government of Yemen have a right to collective self-
defense,128 the use of force applied in self-defense must be both “necessary” and
“proportionate.”129 In the case of Yemen, some scholars have argued that indiscriminate targeting
of civilians serves no lawful military purpose and does not deter threats, and therefore fails to
meet the legal threshold of necessity and proportionality.130 Saudi officials dispute allegations that
their targeting is indiscriminate.

124 See, for example, Testimony of R. Clarke Cooper, Assistant Secretary Of State, Political-Military Affairs, House
Foreign Affairs Committee, June 12, 2019.
125 Ibid.
126 See, for example, Michael Pates and Brittany Benowitz, “An Assessment of the Legality of Arms Sales to the
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the Context of the Conflict in Yemen,” American Bar Association, May 19, 2017. Those
prohibitions include Section 4, AECA (22 U.S.C. 2754), Section 502, FAA (22 U.S.C. 2302), and other limitations
contained in an agreement with the United States governing the articles’ provision (Section 3(c)(1)(B), AECA (22
U.S.C. 2753(c)(1)(B), and Section 505(d), FAA (22 U.S.C. 2314(d)).
127 Section 4, AECA, and Section 502, FAA, state that defense articles may be sold only for certain purposes.
128 In 2015, President Hadi requested international assistance from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to defend his
government against attacks by the Houthis. See, President Hadi correspondence with GCC governments printed in U.N.
Document S/2015/217, “Identical letters dated 26 March 2015 from the Permanent Representative of Qatar to the
United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General and the President of Security Council,” March 27, 2015.
129 Oona A. Hathaway, Aaron Haviland, Srinath Reddy Kethireddy, and Alyssa T. Yamamoto, “Yemen: Is the U.S.
Breaking the Law?” Harvard National Security Journal / Vol. 10, 2019.
130 op.cit., American Bar Association.
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End-Use Monitoring (EUM)
Congress has long taken an interest in ensuring that arms sold to foreign countries are used
responsibly and for the purposes agreed as part of their sale (a legal requirement for certification
that goes back to the 1960s). In 1996, Congress amended the AECA to include Section 40A (P.L.
104-164), which directs the President to “establish a program that provides for end-use
monitoring in order to improve accountability with respect to defense articles sold, leased, or
exported under the AECA or FAA.”131 The goals of end-use monitoring include preserving U.S.
technological superiority by impeding adversaries’ access to sensitive items and ensuring that
arms are used solely by the intended recipients based on the terms under which the sale is made.
In addition, as part of the standard terms and conditions of a letter of agreement (LOA), the
recipient country agrees to “permit observation and review by ... representatives of the U.S.
Government with regards to the use of such articles.”132
End-use monitoring has been an important consideration in evaluating arms sales to Iraq, as
Members of Congress try to balance the Iraqi government’s need for weapons to use against the
Islamic State and other threats with the potential for those arms to fall into the wrong hands,
including the very groups their use is intended to combat. In February 2018, the Lead Inspector
General for Overseas Contingency Operations reported that DOD officials had “acknowledged
that some U.S.-provided military equipment sent to support the mission, including as many as
nine M1 Abrams tanks, had fallen into the hands of Iranian-backed militias that fought against
ISIS in Iraq.” The report stated that the State Department “pressed the Iraqi government to
prioritize the return of defense articles provided by the United States,” and the articles were later
returned to Iraqi military custody “as designated in the sale agreements.”133
Nevertheless, challenges remain in tracking the whereabouts of U.S. arms in a country that has
received tens of billions of dollars’ worth of U.S. weapons and training in the past decade
alone.134 In May 2017, Amnesty International obtained (via a Freedom of Information Act
request) and released a September 2016 DOD audit that determined that the Army “did not have
effective controls” to track equipment transfers provided to Iraqi forces through the Iraq Train and
Equip Fund (ITEF). The audit characterized the Army’s recordkeeping as inconsistent, out of
date, and prone to human error.135 A DOD spokeswoman stated, “The bottom line is that the US
military does not have a means to track equipment that has been taken from the Government of
Iraq by ISIL.”136 The implications for these sales under the AECA are unclear. The DOD

131 Arms sales are subject to two EUM programs: the State Department’s Blue Lantern program (for DCS) and DOD’s
Golden Sentry program (for FMS). Since 1996, the Department of State has been required, by Section 40A(c) of the
AECA, to submit a yearly report summarizing the activities of both programs during the previous fiscal year as part of
the department’s annual budget justification.
132 Derek Gilman, “Foreign Military Sales,” Defense Security Cooperation Agency, September 30, 2014, at
133 Lead Inspector General for Overseas Contingency Operations, Report to the United States Congress, October 1,
2017-December 31, 2017. Released February 2, 2018.
134 In 2007, GAO reported a “discrepancy of at least 190,000 weapons” between what U.S.-led coalition forces reported
issuing to Iraqi forces and what was on the property books, including 110,000 AK-47s. Government Accountability
Office Report to Congressional Committees, “DOD Cannot Ensure That U.S.-Funded Equipment Has Reached Iraqi
Security Forces,” July 2007, at
135 “Iraq: US military admits failures to monitor over $1 billion worth of arms transfers,” Amnesty International, May
24, 2017. This conclusion was echoed in a May 2017 GAO report that found that the Pentagon has only “limited
visibility and accountability over equipment funded by” ITEF. “DOD Needs to Improve Visibility and Accountability
Over Equipment Provided to Iraq’s Security Forces,” Government Accountability Office, May 25, 2017.
136 Max Rosenthal, “The Pentagon Has No Clue How Many Weapons It Has Lost to ISIS,” Mother Jones, January 22,
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spokeswoman cited above explained the situation by saying that “the current conflict in Iraq
limits some aspects of ... monitoring activities, including travel to many areas of Iraq and access
to Iraqi units in combat areas, as well as combat use, damage and losses of war material.”137 A
DOD Inspector General audit released in February 2020 found similar deficiencies in tracking
and storing hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of U.S. equipment intended for partner forces
in Syria.138
End-use monitoring is an important part of ensuring that recipient governments in the Middle
East adhere to human rights standards. In April 2016, the Government Accountability Office
(GAO) published a report that recommended “strengthening” end-use monitoring of military
equipment sold to Egypt, citing the Egyptian government’s failure to admit U.S. officials to
storage sites and other issues.139 Similar GAO reports have been published on aid to Lebanon
(February 2014)140 and GCC countries (November 2011).141 Common recommendations across
these reports include
 greater coordination between the Departments of State and Defense (which
operate two different EUM programs),142
 more comprehensive vetting of recipients of security assistance, and
 the development of guidance (by both departments) establishing procedures for
documenting end-use monitoring efforts and violations thereof.
Members of Congress may consider whether existing EUM frameworks are sufficient, and
whether additional authorities, appropriations, or other legislative directives might support,
streamline, or otherwise strengthen these efforts.
Possible Illegal Transfer of U.S. Weaponry in Yemen
Congress has long taken an interest in ensuring that arms sold to foreign countries are used
responsibly and for the purposes agreed on as part of their sale.143 In February 2019, CNN
reported that Saudi Arabia and the UAE had provided U.S. armored vehicles to local Yemeni
units fighting the Houthis in possible violation of end-user provisions in foreign military sale or
direct commercial sale agreements.144 The coalition denied that the items had left their control,

137 Ibid.
138 DOD Inspector General, Results in Brief - Audit of the DoD’s Accountability of Counter-Islamic State of Iraq and
Syria Train and Equip Fund Equipment Designated for Syria, February 13, 2020.
139 “Security Assistance: U.S. Government Should Strengthen End-Use Monitoring and Human Rights Vetting for
Egypt,” Government Accountability Office, April 12, 2016, at
140 “DOD and State Need to Address Gaps in Monitoring of Security Equipment Transferred to Lebanon,” Government
Accountability Office, February 26, 2014, at
141 “Persian Gulf: Implementation Gaps Limit the Effectiveness of End-Use Monitoring and Human Rights Vetting for
U.S. Military Equipment,” Government Accountability Office, November 17, 2011, at
142 DOD’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency manages the department’s Golden Sentry EUM program for defense
articles sold via FMS. The State Department's Directorate of Defense Trade Controls coordinates the Blue Lantern
program, which performs an analogous function for items sold via DCS.
143 See CRS Report R44984, Arms Sales in the Middle East: Trends and Analytical Perspectives for U.S. Policy, by
Clayton Thomas.
144 Nima Elbagir, Salma Abdelaziz, Mohamed Abo El Gheit and Laura Smith-Spark, "Sold to an Ally, Lost to an
Enemy,", February 2019. Available at:
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citing command arrangements (see below), while the State Department said that it was “seeking
additional information” on the issue. In Senate and House hearings in early February 2019, some
Members expressed concern about end-use monitoring of equipment provided to the coalition.145
In October 2019, CNN published another article alleging that the UAE had illegally transferred
U.S.-made Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles to the separatist Southern
Transitional Council (STC).146 A third piece, published a month later by CNN, which depicted
video footage of MRAPs being offloaded in Aden, elicited a response from an unnamed State
Department official who remarked that “there is currently no U.S. prohibition on the use of U.S.-
origin MRAPs by Gulf coalition forces in Yemen.”147
Per Section §3(a) of the Arms Export Control Act (AECA - 22 U.S. Code §2753) and Section
505(e) of the Foreign Assistance Act (22 U.S. Code §2314), the U.S. government must review
and approve any transfer of U.S.-origin equipment from a recipient to a third party that was not
authorized in the original acquisition.148 Third Party Transfer (TPT) is the retransfer of title,
physical possession or control of defense articles from the authorized recipient to any person or
organization that is not an employee, officer or agent of that recipient country.149
For lawmakers, the definition of the “end-user” is at issue in Yemen. Saudi Arabia and the UAE
claim that U.S.-purchased weapons used in Yemen have remained in their control in accordance
with U.S. law and relevant bilateral agreements. According to Saudi-led coalition spokesperson
Col. Turki Al Maliki, “the information that the military equipment will be delivered to a third
party is unfounded…. all military equipment is used by Saudi forces in accordance with term and
conditions of Foreign Military Sales (FMS) adopted by the US government and in pursuance of
the Arms Export Control Act.”150
Several Members of Congress have followed up on CNN’s investigations with legislative
inquiries. Senator Elizabeth Warren has sent several letters to the Secretary of Defense and
Secretary of State requesting information regarding the reported transfer of American weapons
from the Saudi-led coalition to armed Yemeni militias, such as the STC.151 In September 2019,
the Senate Appropriations Committee adopted an amendment by voice vote and incorporated it
into Section 9018 of S. 2474, the Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2020, which would
have prohibited the use of defense funds to support the Saudi-led coalition air campaign in Yemen
until the Secretary of Defense certifies that the Saudi-led coalition is in “compliance with end-use
agreements related to sales of United States weapons and defense articles.” Additionally, it would

145 “Hearing to Receive Testimony on the United States Central Command in Review of the Defense Authorization
Request for Fiscal Year 2020 and the Future Years Defense Program,” Senate Armed Services Committee, February 5,
2019; “Hearing on U.S. Policy in the Arabian Peninsula,” House Foreign Affairs Committee, February 6, 2019.
146 Nima Elbagir, Mohamed Abo El Gheit, Florence Davey-Attlee, and Salma Abdelaziz, “American Weapons Ended
up in the Wrong Hands in Yemen. Now they're Being Turned on the US-Backed Government,”, October 20,
147 Nima Elbagir, Salma Abdelaziz, Mohamed Abo El Gheit, Florence Davey-Attlee and Ed Upright, “Under Shroud of
Secrecy US Weapons Arrive in Yemen Despite Congressional Outrage,”, November 7, 2019.
148 See, U.S. State Department, Third Party Transfer Process and Documentation, Bureau of Political-Military Affairs,
December 17, 2018.
149 See, Defense Institute of Security Cooperation Studies, "The Management of Security Cooperation (Green Book),"
Edition 39, January 2019.
150 op.cit., CNN, November 7, 2019.
151 Warren Calls on DoD and State to Respond to Reports that American Military Weapons Have Been Transferred to
Suspected Terrorists and Separatist Militias in Yemen, October 23, 2019.
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have prohibited the use of defense funds until the Secretary submits to Congress any written
findings of “any internal Department of Defense investigation into unauthorized third-party
transfers of United States weapons and defense articles in Yemen and has taken corrective action
as a result of any such investigation.” P.L. 116-93, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020,
which incorporated S. 2474, did not include Section 9018.
In May 2020, CNN again revealed that the State and Defense departments had cleared the UAE
in their investigation into the possible illegal transfer of U.S. equipment, adding that the “State
Department has told some leaders in Congress that it is ‘satisfied no actual transfers were
Providing Weaponry to Governments Suspected of Human Rights
Many Members of Congress take an interest in trying to ensure respect for human rights around
the world, especially in countries that maintain close relations with the United States and over
which the United States arguably has a degree of influence through its provision of arms or other
services for purposes of building partner capacity (BPC).153 However, this interest has also been
observed to create tension between a desire to support the rule of law and personal freedoms in
various countries and the security implications of potentially harming cooperation with partner
governments. At a March 2017 Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, CENTCOM
Commander General Joseph L. Votel said,
[i]n recent years we have seen an increase in restrictions placed on assistance provided to
partner nations, limiting their ability to acquire U.S. equipment based on human rights
and/or political oppression of minority groups. While these are significant challenges that
must be addressed, the use of FMF and FMS [Foreign Military Sales] as a mechanism to
achieve changes in behavior has questionable effectiveness and can have unintended
consequences.... We should avoid using the programs as a lever of influence or denial to
our own detriment.154
This tension, typically framed as one between values and security, or as one between different
types of security, often plays out in the Middle East, and arms sales are a critical part of the
Bahrain has been a prominent setting for this debate. The United States has maintained a naval
command in Bahrain for decades, even before the small Gulf kingdom’s independence in 1971.

152 Nima Elbagir, Alison Main, Salma Abdelaziz, Laura Smith-Spark and Jennifer Hansler, “The US Cleared the Way
for a New Arms Sale to the UAE, Despite Evidence it Violated the Last One,” CNN, May 22, 2020.
153 For more on BPC, see CRS Report R44313, What Is “Building Partner Capacity?” Issues for Congress,
coordinated by Kathleen J. McInnis. BPC was first coined in the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), one of
several documents that guide U.S. policy on arms sales. Another is PPD-27, a Presidential Decision Directive issued by
President Obama in 2014 that replaced a previous classified version announced by the Clinton Administration in 1995.
“Presidential Policy Directive- United States Conventional Arms Transfer Policy,” The White House, January 15,
2014, at PPD-27 adds to the original 1995 list two criteria to be taken into
account when making arms transfer decisions, one of which is the “likelihood that the recipient would use the arms to
commit human rights abuses or serious violations of international law.” PDD-27 adds an unqualified prohibition
(absent in the 1995 policy) against the United States authorizing the transfer of arms if it “has actual knowledge at the
time of authorization that the transferred arms will be used to commit ... genocide, crimes against humanity,” or a
number of other war crimes.
154 Statement of General Joseph L. Votel, Commander, U.S. Central Command, Before the Senate Armed Services
Committee, March 9, 2017, at
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The two nations signed a Defense Cooperation Agreement (DCA) in 1991, and President George
W. Bush designated Bahrain a “major non-NATO ally” in March 2002.155 However, concerns
over the Bahraini government’s response to a protest movement that emerged in February 2011
have complicated the relationship. Bahrain’s governing elite (dominated by minority Sunnis and
led by the ruling Al Khalifa family) is accused of widespread human rights violations against the
Shiite majority.156
In early 2016, Bahrain submitted a request to purchase a number of F-16s and to upgrade its
existing aircraft in a deal worth as much as $4 billion. However, when the Obama Administration
informally pre-notified the sale to Congress, it explained that the sale would not move forward
unless Bahrain took steps toward improving its record on human rights.157 The Trump
Administration dropped those conditions in March 2017, even though U.N. investigators have
asserted a “sharp deterioration” of human rights over the past year in Bahrain.158 Congress was
formally notified of the sale in September 2017. In his above-referenced March 2017 committee
testimony, General Votel explicitly mentioned the case of Bahrain. He said that “the slow
progress on key FMS cases, specifically additional F-16 aircraft and upgrades to Bahrain’s
existing F-16 fleet, due to concerns of potential human rights abuses in the country, continues to
strain our relationship.”159
Critics of the sale have argued that the Bahrain Defense Force (which largely excludes Shiites in
favor of non-Bahraini Sunnis) itself contributes to instability in the country, and that the
condition-free provision of U.S. weapons only exacerbates the problem.160 In the 114th Congress,
legislation was introduced (H.R. 3445 and S. 2009) to prohibit the transfer of weapons that could
be used for crowd control purposes, including small arms, ammunition, and Humvees, unless the
State Department could certify that the government had implemented all recommendations made
by the report of the government-established Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry
Egypt is another example of the challenging dynamics around human rights. Congress, for its
part, has sought to tie arms transfers to Egypt’s adherence to certain democratic and human rights
standards. Since FY2012, enacted appropriations measures have included language withholding
certain portions of Egypt’s FMF allotment unless the executive branch can certify Egypt’s
progress on various metrics related to human rights.162 Other than in FY2014, these measures
have authorized the executive branch to waive such restrictions on national security grounds, and
successive Secretaries of State have routinely exercised these waiver authorities. President Trump
reduced the FY2017 FMF obligation to Egypt by $65.7 million as a result of Egypt's ongoing

155 Other major non-NATO allies in the region include Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, and Morocco; these and other designated
major non-NATO allies receive a number of benefits, including preferential treatment for U.S. arms exports.
156 See, for example, “Bahrain 2016 Human Rights Report,” State Department Country Reports on Human Rights
Practices for 2016, at
157 Anthony Capaccio, “Bahrain’s Lockheed F-16 Buy Said to Come With U.S. Strings,” Bloomberg, September 30,
2016. The concerns reportedly included imprisoned activists and shuttered political parties.
158 “Bahrain must end worsening human rights clampdown, UN experts say,” Office of the High Commissioner for
Human Rights, June 16, 2017.
159 Statement of General Joseph L. Votel. March 9, 2017.
160 Elliott Abrams, “The Non-Existent Progress in Bahrain,” Council on Foreign Relations, June 30, 2015.
161 For more, see CRS Report 95-1013, Bahrain: Unrest, Security, and U.S. Policy, by Kenneth Katzman.
162 For a table of these democracy-based conditions on U.S. military aid to Egypt, see the CRS report referenced in the
footnote above.
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relationship with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and its enactment of a law
restricting non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
Members of Congress may revisit existing prohibitions on the transfer of U.S. weapons to
specific security force units and personnel that have engaged in human rights violations, and
whether those measures are effective.163
CAATSA: Possible Sanctions on Purchasers of Russian Weapons
In July 2017, Congress passed, by a veto-proof margin, the Countering America’s Adversaries
Through Sanctions Act, which President Trump then signed into law.164 Section 231 of the law
directs the President to impose his or her choice of a number of specified sanctions on entities
that engage in “significant transactions” with the Russian defense sector. At the request of then-
Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, Congress added a presidential waiver in 2018.
The most prominent U.S. partner facing possible sanctions under CAATSA is NATO ally Turkey,
which began payment on the Russian S-400 air defense system in 2017.165 As of November 2020,
the United States has imposed sanctions under Section 231 in one instance, on a Chinese military
department and its director for China’s 2017-2018 acquisition of Russian Su-35 jets and S-400
In the Middle East, a number of U.S. partners have publicly expressed interest in or begun
negotiations on obtaining these major Russian systems, which could precipitate further action
from either the Administration or Congress:
Egypt. In March 2019, Egypt reportedly signed a $2 billion agreement with
Russia to procure as many as 24 of Russia’s 4.5 generation fighter aircraft, the
Su-35. The next month, several Senators wrote to Secretary of State Pompeo
expressing concern about the possible sale. Secretary Pompeo stated in April
2019 testimony that “CAATSA would require sanctions” if Egypt were to acquire
the aircraft, a warning repeated by Assistant Secretary Cooper in November
2019. Russian media reported in July 2020 that the first batch of jets were en
route to Egypt, but neither side has officially confirmed delivery as of November
Qatar. Russian media, quoting the Qatari ambassador, first reported that Qatar
was in discussions with Russia to purchase the S-400 system in January 2018.
During a March 2019 visit by his Russian counterpart, the Qatari Foreign
Minister confirmed that, “There is a discussion for procurement of various
Russian equipment but there is no understanding as of yet as to [the S-400].”167

163 For more information, see CRS In Focus IF10575, Human Rights Issues: Security Forces Vetting (“Leahy Laws”),
by Liana W. Rosen.
164 For more on CAATSA, see CRS Report R45415, U.S. Sanctions on Russia, coordinated by Cory Welt.
165 Turkey took delivery of the system in 2019, and has reportedly tested it multiple times, leading the Trump
Administration to remove Turkey from the F-35 program and prohibit Turkey from receiving any of the 100 F-35s it
had planned to procure. The Administration has not imposed CAATSA sanctions, despite calls from some Members of
Congress that it do so, nor invoked the waiver to forgo sanctions, instead warning Turkey against making the system
operational. Sec. 1292 of the House-passed FY2021 NDAA (H.R. 6395) would direct the President to impose
CAATSA sanctions on Turkey within 30 days, unless the President certifies that Turkey no longer possesses the S-400
and that it will not engage in similar transactions with Russia in the future.
166 Hagar Hosny, “Egypt acquires Russian fighter jets despite US warning,” Al-Monitor Egypt Pulse, August 3, 2020.
167 “Qatar FM: Doha buying S-400s ‘not anyone’s business,’” Al Jazeera, March 4, 2019.
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There have been no additional announcements or further public reporting on the
potential sale, which one analysis contends could be intended to “motivate the
approval of arms sales from the United States.”168 Qatar has also reportedly
entered talks about purchasing the Su-35.169
UAE. Several reports in 2017 indicated that the UAE was nearing an agreement
with Russia to purchase a squadron of Su-35s by the end of that year. However,
no deal was signed. In November 2019, the CEO of the Russian firm that
includes Sukhoi, the producer of the Su-35, said that the UAE was potentially
interested in the Su-57, Russia’s fifth-generation fighter aircraft seen as roughly
comparable to the United States’s F-35. He added that his firm, Rostec, had
offered “localization” or the possibility of co-production. Russia may be
motivated to make such concessions to secure a sale in order to “spread out the
cost burden” of the expensive Su-57; for its part, the UAE may be inclined to
pursue an agreement either in place of long-sought but withheld F-35s, or to
pressure the United States to offer them.170 The example of Turkey, which has not
been sanctioned under CAATSA but was removed from the F-35 program, may
influence the UAE’s strategic calculus.171
Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia reportedly signed an agreement with Russia in
October 2017 to purchase the S-400 system, though no payment or delivery has
evidently taken place as of November 2020: despite the Saudi ambassador to
Russia saying that talks were in their final stage in February 2018; he later said in
November that discussions were still ongoing. In September 2019, days after an
extensive missile and drone attack against Saudi oil production facilities
attributed to Iran, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Saudi Arabia
“need[s] to make clever decisions” like Iran and Turkey did by purchasing
Russian weapon systems.172
Algeria. The U.S. ambassador reportedly told Algerian media in September 2018
that Algeria could face sanctions under CAATSA, but he did not evidently
reference which specific potential future purchases could trigger sanctions. In
late 2019, press reports indicated that Algeria was in talks with Russia to be the
first foreign purchaser of the Su-57, though skeptics have noted earlier reports of
a sale of Su-34s never materialized and questioned whether the Su-57 is actually
ready for export. Algeria is a longtime arms client of Russia, which provided
fully two-thirds of Algeria’s arms deliveries in 2015-2019, making Algeria
Russia’s third largest arms buyer.
State Department officials maintain that the threat of Section 231 sanctions has “deterred billions
of dollars-worth of arms exports from Russia,” without giving any specific examples.173 However,
in the judgment of one analyst, the range of states publicly contemplating purchasing major

168 Qatar – External Affairs, Jane’s, updated July 11, 2019.
169 “Qatar mulls buying Russia’s Su-35 fighter jets,” Tass, March 1, 2018.
170 David Axe, “Could the United Arab Emirates buy Russia’s stealth fighter?” National Interest, March 16, 2020.
171 Valerie Insinna, “Turkey’s S-400 buy may have spoiled Gulf nations’ chances of flying the F-35,” Defense News,
November 12, 2019.
172 Mark Katz, “He’s serious: Putin offers to sell air defense missiles to Saudi Arabia,” Atlantic Council, September 17,
173 U.S. Department of State, CAATSA Section 231, Addition of 33 entities and individuals to the list of specified
persons and imposition of sanctions on the Equipment Development Department, September 20, 2018.
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Russian defense system indicates that the law has “demonstrably failed.” The analyst attributes
that alleged failure both to mixed U.S. messaging, which has made the threat of sanctions less
than credible, as well as the lack of positive alternatives:
The deterrence also failed because the U.S. government did not pair the threat of
punishment with a structural alternative that encourages security cooperation with the
United States, to the exclusion of Russia…[For countries considering buying Russian
equipment], the only structural incentive from Washington is negative: the message is “do
not buy major systems from Russia or we will punish you, probably.” But Moscow does
not make the same threat, and the lack of credibility in the U.S. threat to sanction,
apparently makes it worth assuming the risk of continuing to do business with both great
The future impact of the law in deterring third parties from establishing and deepening security
cooperation with Russia via major arms purchases may depend on the United States’ own export
strategies and how the United States handles its bilateral relationships in an increasingly
multipolar world.
For the foreseeable future, arms sales appear likely to remain an important component of
interstate relations in the Middle East and a prominent tool of U.S. policy toward the region. As
they oversee executive branch action on arms sales, Members of Congress will continue to
confront the challenge of balancing competing U.S. priorities in the Middle East along a number
of potential axes:
 Do arms sales increase the probability of conflict or do they deter aggression?
 Do arms sales align U.S. partners more closely with U.S. policy goals or do arms
sales create operators more capable of pursuing goals independent from, or even
counter to, U.S. policies?
 In creating more capable partners, do arms sales allow the United States to
reduce its presence in the Middle East, or do they further entrench the United
States in the region?
 Do arms sales fuel cooperation or competition between U.S. partners?
 Are arms sales a necessary (if unsavory) means of maintaining mutually
beneficial ties with undemocratic states that support U.S. policies, or do arms
sales undermine democracy and human rights, support for which is a U.S. policy
goal in its own right?
 Do U.S. arms sales prevent inroads by great power competitors like China and
Russia, or do Middle Eastern states view the United States as one of a number of
potential suppliers?
 Do the economic benefits of arms sales to the region outweigh potential costs in
other policy areas?
 Are conditions/restrictions on arms sales necessary to maintain U.S. oversight
and leverage over the use of those arms, or do conditions motivate potential
operators to seek out other suppliers, eliminating U.S. oversight entirely?

174 Jarod Taylor, “An American Failure: CAATSA and Deterring Russian Arms Sales,” Foreign Policy Research
Institute, November 26, 2019.
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In weighing these and other questions related to arms sales, Members have a rich history of
interactions between the legislative and executive branches on which to draw to inform their

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Appendix A. Historical U.S. Arms Sales to the
Middle East

Figure A-1. U.S. Arms Sales to the Middle East
1950-2017, All figures in billions of dollars

Source: Created by CRS.

Table A-1. U.S. Arms Sales to the Middle East
1950-2017, All figures in millions of dollars






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MENA Total as percent of World Total


Source: Defense Security Cooperation Agency Historical Facts Book as of September 30, 2017.
Notes: “Agreements” is the total value of all defense articles and services purchased in a fiscal year; “deliveries”
is the total value of all defense articles and services delivered to a foreign government in that year. Figures are
actual. Zeroes indicate periods with no U.S. sales, as well as figures under 1 mil ion dol ars.

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Appendix B. Selected Resolutions Disapproving of
Arms Sales to the Middle East

Content of Proposed
Sale/Conditions of
Bill Number
6/13/75 Iran
H.J.Res. 512
Three diesel powered submarines Introduced
7/11/75 Jordan
S.Con.Res. 50
Hawk and Redeye missiles
10/21/75 Kuwait
H.Con.Res. 452
Sidewinder missiles
3/30/76 Egypt
H.Con.Res. 597
6 C-130s
9/7/76 Morocco
S.Con.Res. 154
Aircraft in transmittal 7T-17
9/9/77 Egypt
H.Con.Res. 349
14 C-130s and 12 Firebees
10/1/77 Iran
S.Con.Res. 48
Early warning aircraft
5/1/78 Egypt
S.Con.Res. 81
50 F-5s
5/1/78 Saudi
H.Con.Res. 597
60 F-15s
5/1/78 Israel
S.Con.Res. 82
15 F-15s; 75 F-16s
8/2/79 Israel
H.Con.Res. 174
Hawk missiles; dragon missiles;
armored personnel carriers;
M60A3 tanks; 155mm howitzers
1/29/80 Morocco
S.Con.Res. 71
Aircraft and helicopters
8/19/80 Jordan
H.Con.Res. 401
100 M60A3 Tanks
10/1/81 Saudi
H.Con.Res. 194
AWACs, Sidewinder missiles,
Agreed to in House;
aerial refueling aircraft, fuel tanks
failed in Senate 48-52
2/23/82 Jordan
S.Con.Res. 66
F-16s and mobile missile
10/22/85 Jordan
S.J.Res. 223
Advanced weapons system (until
Introduced; 73
direct peace negotiations with
4/9/86 Saudi
S.J.Res. 316,
Sidewinder, Stinger, and Harpoon Passed House and
H.J.Res. 589
Senate; veto override
vote failed 66-34
7/12/88 Kuwait
H.J.Res. 609
F-18s, Harpoons and Sidewinder
Introduced; 168
4/18/90 Turkey
H.J.Res. 550
Five AH-1W helicopters
6/11/90 Saudi
H.J.Res. 592
AWACS E-3 and KE-5
6/19/91 UAE
S.J.Res. 165
Introduced; 29
2/21/92 Arab
S.Con.Res. 93
Prohibits sales to states without
diplomatic relations with Israel
4/28/92 Kuwait
H.J.Res. 473
Air defense system
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Content of Proposed
Sale/Conditions of
Bill Number
9/15/92 Saudi
H.J.Res. 549
F-15s (until Israel boycott
12/22/95 Turkey
H.Con.Res. 125
Army Tactical missile System
(until steps taken on Cyprus,
Kurds, Armenia, human rights)
1/15/08 Saudi
H.J.Res. 76
900 JDAM tail kits
Introduced; 104
12/15/10 Saudi
H.J.Res. 104
190 helicopters; 84 F-15SAs
10/6/11 Bahrain
H.J.Res. 80,
Prohibits sales (until Secretary
S.J.Res. 28
certifies BICI implementation)
11/3/11 Turkey
H.J.Res. 83
Three super COBRAs
9/8/16 Saudi
S.J.Res. 39
Abrams tanks
Failed 27-71
5/25/17 Saudi
S.J.Res. 42
JDAMs, Fuze and Paveway
Motion to discharge
committee, rejected
11/15/18 Bahrain
S.J.Res. 65
Missiles and rocket pods
Motion to discharge
committee, rejected
11/29/18 Egypt
S.J.Res. 67
AH-64E Apaches
5/13/19 Bahrain
S.J.Res. 20
F-16 weapons
Motion to discharge
committee, rejected
5/14/19 Qatar
S.J.Res. 26
AH-64E Apaches
Motion to discharge
committee, rejected
11/18/20 UAE
S.J.Res. 77-
F-35s, MQ-9s, munitions
S.J.Res. 80
11/19/20 UAE
H.J.Res 100-
F-35s, MQ-9s, munitions
H.J.Res 103
Notes: Many of the prospective sales above prompted the introduction of multiple resolutions of disapproval in
both Houses; generally only one il ustrative example per sale is listed here.
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Appendix C. Selected DSCA Major Arms Sales
Notifications to Middle East, 2010-Present

Possible Value
Date Country
(in $ million)

8/3/2010 Oman
18 F-16s
8/10/2010 Kuwait
209 Patriot GEM-T missiles
9/13/2010 Iraq
18 F-16s
10/20/2010 Saudi Arabia
84 F-15SAs
10/20/2010 Saudi Arabia
36 Apaches, 72 Blackhawks
11/4/2010 UAE
30 Apaches

6/29/2011 Iraq
Aircraft System Maintenance and Support
7/5/2011 Egypt
125 Abrams tank kits
9/21/2011 Qatar
6 Seahawks
10/18/2011 Oman
18 Avenger fire units, stinger missiles
12/12/2011 Iraq
18 F-16s

6/12/2012 Qatar
12 Blackhawks
6/26/2012 Qatar
22 Seahawks
7/10/12 Qatar
24 Apache Longbows
7/20/12 Kuwait
60 PAC-3 missiles, 4 radars, 20 launching stations
11/2/12 UAE
48 THAAD missiles, 9 launchers
11/2/12 Qatar
2 THAAD units, 12 launchers
11 Patriot fire units, 44 launching stations, 768
PAC-3 missiles
11/8/12 Saudi Arabia
20 C-130J-30s, 5 KC-130Js
12/14/12 Israel
6900 JDAM kits

7/10/13 Saudi Arabia
30 Mark V patrol boats
7/25/13 Iraq
50 Stryker combat vehicles
7/29/13 Qatar
AN/FPS-132 early warning radar
8/5/13 Iraq
Integrated Air Defense System
10/11/13 UAE
10/11/13 Saudi Arabia

1/14/14 Israel
6 V-22B aircraft
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Possible Value
Date Country
(in $ million)
1/27/14 Iraq
Support for leased Apaches
24 AH-64E Apaches
4,800 (later
8/12/14 Saudi Arabia
AWACS modernization
9/29/14 UAE
12 HIMARS launchers, 100 rockets
9/30/14 Saudi Arabia
202 PAC-3 missiles
10/20/14 Iraq
Abrams Tank Ammunition
12/19/14 Iraq
175 Abrams Tanks

5/18/15 Israel
14,500 JDAM kits
5/20/15 Saudi Arabia
10MH-60R helicopters
7/28/15 Saudi Arabia
600 PAC-3 missiles
10/19/15 Saudi Arabia
Four multi-mission combat ships
11/13/15 Saudi Arabia
Air to ground munitions

1/7/16 Iraq
5,000 Hellfire missiles
1/20/16 Iraq
F-16 weapons and munitions
8/8/16 Saudi Arabia
153 M1A2 tanks
11/17/16 Kuwait
40 F-18s
11/17/16 Qatar
72 F-15s
12/7/16 UAE
37 Apaches
12/7/16 Saudi Arabia
48 Chinooks
12/12/16 Kuwait
Recapitalization of 218 M1A2 tanks

4/11/17 Iraq
Pilot and maintenance training
4/16/17 Israel
864 mil ion gallons of fuel
5/10/17 UAE
60 PAC-3 missiles
10/6/17 Saudi Arabia
360 THAAD missiles, 44 launchers
11/1/17 Qatar
F-15QA support

1/17/18 Saudi Arabia
Missile System support services
3/22/18 Saudi Arabia
TOW 2B missiles
4/5/18 Saudi Arabia
155mm howitzer systems
4/27/18 Bahrain
12 AH-1Z attack helicopters
11/27/18 Egypt
10 AH-64E Apaches
11/28/18 Morocco
Abrams tank enhancements
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Possible Value
Date Country
(in $ million)

3/25/19 Morocco
25 F-16C/D Block 72 aircraft
3/25/19 Morocco
Upgrades to existing F-16 Block 25+
5/3/19 UAE
Patriot Missile System
5/3/19 Bahrain
Patriot Missile System
5/3/19 Bahrain
AMRAAMs and other F-16 weapons
5/9/19 Qatar
24 AH-64E Apaches
5/25/19 Saudi Arabia
Aircraft fol ow-on support and services
11/20/19 Morocco
36 AH-64E Apaches

3/3/20 Israel
8 KC-46s
5/7/20 Egypt
Refurbishments to AH-64E Apaches
7/6/20 Israel
990 mil ion gallons of fuel and unleaded gasoline
11/10/20 UAE
800 AMRAAM missiles and other munitions
11/10/20 UAE
50 F-35A Joint Strike Fighters
11/10/20 UAE
18 MQ-9 Remotely Piloted Aircraft
Source: Defense Security Cooperation Agency Major Arms Sales Database.
Notes: Most proposed sales include elements beyond the major defense articles listed here, namely related
services, support, equipment, training, spare parts, and/or munitions. Notifications generally indicate the
maximum possible size/value of a potential deal, and may not reflect its ultimate form (which may take years or
even decades to finalize).
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Appendix D. Total Proposed U.S. Arms Sales to
Selected Countries by Year

Figure D-1. Proposed U.S. Arms Sales to Select Countries

Source: Defense Security Cooperation Agency Major Arms Sales Database. Figure created by CRS.
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Appendix E. Historical Foreign Military Financing

Figure E-1. Total Foreign Military Financing to MENA vs. Global, 1950-2017

Source: Defense Security Cooperation Agency Historical Facts Book as of September 30, 2017. Figure created
by CRS.
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Appendix F. Past Presidential Usage of Emergency
Authorities: Five Case Studies
Before 2019, Administrations used AECA emergency authorities several times to immediately
sell arms to foreign partners, at times generating debate in Congress over the cases in question
and the broader availability and use of the authorities by the executive branch.
March 1979: North Yemen
On March 7, 1979, President Jimmy Carter formally notified Congress that an emergency existed
that required the United States to sell arms to North Yemen; the presidential determination cited
section 36(b)(1) of the AECA. Congressional consideration of and reaction to that emergency
decision, the first such invocation of that provision, demonstrated a number of concerns that
arguably are relevant today.
South Yemen won independence from Great Britain in 1967, and was governed by the Yemeni
Socialist Party after 1970 as the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen (PDRY). The PDRY
had tense but generally normal relations with its more populous northern neighbor, the Yemen
Arab Republic (YAR). Saudi Arabia became the main patron of North Yemen following the
departure of Egyptian forces from the country, in opposition to the Soviet-supported PDRY. After
months of escalating political crises, cross border fighting between the two Yemens came to a
head in early 1979 with some limited deployments into North Yemen by South Yemeni forces.
Amid Cold War tensions, and in the wake of the collapse of the Shah’s U.S.-supported
government in Iran and his departure from the country on January 16, 1979, some U.S.
policymakers feared that North Yemen might be a new front for U.S.-Soviet competition and a
potential threat to Saudi security. According to one contemporaneous account, both U.S. and
Saudi policymakers viewed events in Yemen as “a further Soviet probe of American intentions
and resolve in the Middle East” and “a place where the United States had to ‘draw the line.’”175
The Administration delivered to Congress informal notice of the proposed sale of $400 million in
arms for North Yemen to respond to South Yemeni incursions on February 16, 1979, though
reports of the Administration’s plans had surfaced days earlier. In response to those reports, some
Members argued that such a sale would “violate the intent and the spirit of the Arms Export
Control Act.”176 On February 26, 1979, House Foreign Affairs Europe and Middle East
Subcommittee Chairman Lee Hamilton (D-IN) stated that “I hope we are not reacting to [the
Iranian revolution] by increasing arms sales to friends elsewhere in the region…They need
reassurance of our political support, but, in this process, arms sales should not be the principal
instrument” of that support.177
President Carter signed the determination notifying Congress of the emergency sale on March 7,
1979; certain Members were informed that day and the formal notification was publicly relayed
on March 8.178 The sale was comprised of 12 F-5E aircraft; 64 M60-A1 tanks; 50 M113-A1
armored personnel carriers (APCs); and related support, training, and munitions, all paid for by

175 Bernard Reich, David Pollack, and Sally Ann Baynard, “The Iranian Revolution and Its Effects on the Middle East,”
in “Economic Consequences of the Revolution in Iran: A Compendium of Papers Submitted to the Joint Economic
Committee, Congress of the United States,” November 19, 1979, p. 197.
176 Representative Benjamin Rosenthal (D-NY), Extensions of Remarks, Congressional Record 125 (1979), p. 2581.
177 Extensions of Remarks, Congressional Record 125 (1979), p. 3376.
178 President Determination No. 79-6 of March 7, 1979, 44 Fed. Reg. 18633 (March 29, 1979).
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Saudi Arabia. Citing section 36(b)(1) of the AECA, President Carter declared that an emergency
existed which required the sales to North Yemen in the interest of U.S. national security, waiving
the thirty-day congressional review period.
Rep. Hamilton then convened a subcommittee hearing on the arms transfers, which took place on
March 12, 1979. In his testimony, Deputy Assistance Secretary of State for Near Eastern and
South Asian Affairs William Crawford stated that the determination was made to notify Congress
of the proposed $400 million package in September 1978. However, he said, “the notifications to
Congress were held until after the recess” and that the renewed fighting which broke out on
February 23 constituted an emergency “which requires waiver of the Congressional review period
for those items of equipment which were already before Congress on an informal notification
basis.” Along with the arms sales, Crawford cited a number of other Administration steps to
respond to the crisis, including the potential transfer of U.S. origin equipment to North Yemen
from Saudi Arabia and Jordan and the deployment of a carrier task force to the area.
The hearing focused largely on two related questions: the precise justification for the emergency
declaration and the ability of North Yemeni forces to utilize U.S. equipment that had been
expedited. Under questioning, Administration officials testified that there were no Yemeni pilots
qualified to fly F-5Es, and that training Yemeni pilots to use them, as well as the tanks and APCs,
would take “several weeks to several months.” Some subcommittee members spoke in support of
the president’s decision, citing the importance of demonstrating “decisive leadership” and
acknowledging that “it is important, of course, that proper procedure should be followed, but it is
far more important that our national interest should be secured.” Most, however, expressed
reservations over U.S. interests being potentially “dictated” by Saudi Arabia, and questioned the
wisdom of sending U.S. equipment to such a fragile and unstable partner (citing the example of
revolutionary Iran).179
In response to the notification, on March 15, 1979, Rep. Leon Panetta (D-CA) introduced
H.Con.Res. 78, which stated that the March 12 hearing “failed to substantiate the existence of a
national security emergency,” and expressed Congress’s objection to the sale. In introducing the
measure, Rep. Panetta stated, “If the Congress simply stands by and fails to demand that the
administration fully justify the emergency nature of this transfer of arms and men, it will set a
dangerous precedent for this and future administrations seeking to bypass the requirements of the
law.”180 The resolution would not have blocked the sale, but “requested” that it be delayed for 30
days. No action on the resolution was taken, and Congress did not take any action to block the
sale. In October 1979, it did adopt a House provision amending the AECA to require that the
President provide a “detailed justification for his determination, including a description of the
emergency circumstances which necessitate the immediate issuance of the letter of offer” in
future uses of the emergency authority (Section 19(c) of the International Security Assistance Act
of 1979, P.L. 96-92). That provision remains in effect today.
The arms transfers reportedly went forward as planned, though the conflict came to an end in late
March 1979 with the signing of a ceasefire between the two Yemens. Members’ prior concerns
about the ability of North Yemeni forces to absorb and utilize the equipment were apparently
well-founded, given 1980 testimony from the former U.S. military attaché in North Yemen. In a
hearing before the House Foreign Affairs Europe and Middle East Subcommittee, Lt. Col. (Ret.)
John Ruszkiewicz stated that as of the fall of 1979, “none of this equipment had been deployed,
nothing had happened with it,” further alleging that North Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh

179 “Proposed Arms Transfers to the Yemen Arab Republic,” Hearing before the Subcommittee on Europe and the
Middle East of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, House of Representatives, March 12, 1979.
180 Congressional Record – House, Congressional Record 125 (1979), p. 5328.
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“had taken this equipment and controlled it for the purpose of keeping himself in power.”
Ruszkiewicz explicitly linked the U.S. decision to Saudi anxieties in the aftermath of Iran’s
Islamic Revolution, stating that “we subordinated our policy toward North Yemen to that of Saudi
Arabia in the interest of economy and in our desire to see Saudi Arabia as the strong man of the
May 1984: Saudi Arabia
During the early 1980s, the Reagan Administration sought to use arms sales to signal U.S.
commitment to the security of Arab countries in the face of regional and global security threats
and as an inducement to secure Arab support for U.S. efforts to achieve Arab-Israeli peace. The
Iran-Iraq war destabilized the security situation in the Persian Gulf region and placed the United
States in a difficult strategic position. On the one hand, U.S. policy sought to remain neutral in
the conflict and avoid accepting security responsibility for directly defending the other Arab
states of the Gulf region from threats emanating from the conflict. On the other hand, the Arab
Gulf states were financially supporting Iraqi war efforts while expressing growing concern about
the possible military threats to their security posed by both Iraq and Iran.
On February 29, 1984, the Reagan Administration formally notified Congress of its intent to sell
Saudi Arabia 400 Stinger Man Portable Air Defense (MANPADS) missile systems, including
1200 total missiles, related support, spare parts, and training.182 On March 1, the Administration
formally notified Congress of its intent to sell Jordan 315 Stinger systems, including 1,613 total
missiles, related support, spare parts, and training.183 The Administration used the normal
notification procedures under Section 36(b) of the AECA, providing Congress with the
opportunity to review the sales for 30 days.
Congressional reaction to the proposed sales was largely negative, as some Members expressed
strong concerns about the possibility of the loss or diversion of Stingers to terrorists and noted
Jordan’s then unwillingness to recognize Israel and directly engage in peace talks.184
Administration officials also argued that end-use controls would obviate diversion concerns. Two
bills that would have prohibited the sales were introduced (H.R. 5129 and H.R. 5140), the latter
with bipartisan co-sponsorship. Amid vocal congressional opposition to the proposed sales, the
Reagan Administration withdrew them from consideration on March 22.
In April and May, a series of security incidents involving attacks on oil facilities and tankers in
the Persian Gulf demonstrated the volatility in the region. On May 22, Saudi authorities requested
that the United States promptly provide Stinger missile systems to assist in air defense operations.
On May 25, 1984, the Reagan Administration’s National Security Planning Group met and
decided to ship 200 Stinger missile systems with 400 missiles total “with a waiver determination
to be signed after they had reached Saudi Arabia in order to preserve security.”185

181 “U.S. Interests in, and Policies toward, the Persian Gulf, 1980,” Hearing before the Subcommittee on Europe and
the Middle East of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, House of Representatives, March 5, 1980.
182 Transmittal Number 84-31.
183 Transmittal Number 84-32. The Administration acknowledged that Jordanian support for peace efforts was
“essential” in its memorandum of justification and argued that the sales would support peacemaking by demonstrating
U.S. commitment to Jordan’s security.
184 Some Members of Congress had previously expressed opposition to possible sales of Stinger missiles to Jordan, and
legislation was introduced in the House (H.R. 2992) and Senate (S.Res.72) linking authorization of advanced air
defense system sales to Jordan to Jordanian support for the peace process.
185 Testimony of Richard W. Murphy, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs before the
House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe and the Middle East, June 11, 1984.
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According to Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs Richard
Murphy, “key congressmen” were informed of the Administration’s plans in the early afternoon
of Sunday, May 27, and shipments to Saudi Arabia began later that day. The missile systems
arrived in Saudi Arabia on May 28 (Memorial Day, 1984) and remained in U.S. custody until
President Reagan signed the national security waiver determination on May 29. The notification
was formally delivered to Congress on May 30, while Congress was in recess. The justification
The Iran-Iraq war has escalated in recent days, and neutral shipping has been attacked with
increasing frequency and in an ever-widening area in international waters in the Gulf. The
Arab states of the Gulf as well as the United States are attempting to defuse the situation
through diplomatic means. Further escalation could threaten Saudi Arabia. This escalation
of the war could deny vital oil supplies to much of the free world, including particularly
our allies in Western Europe and East Asia....Because the Stinger system can be deployed
in the field shortly after delivery, an immediate transfer to Saudi Arabia of this system is
an appropriate response to the current crisis and will enhance Saudi air defenses. By
providing a deterrent against hostile actions, this transfer lowers the risk of broader
The Administration also announced plans to deploy U.S. AWACS aircraft and an aerial refueling
tanker to the Gulf to support regional security operations and assure U.S. partners.
On June 5, Saudi F-15 fighter aircraft operating with the support of U.S. aircraft shot down two
Iranian F-4 fighter aircraft that had encroached on Saudi airspace. That day, the Senate
Appropriations Subcommittee of Foreign Operations held a hearing at which several Senators
from both the majority and minority criticized the Administration’s use of the emergency
authority to affect the Stinger sale, questioned whether U.S. decisions would result in escalation
in the Iran-Iraq war or unwanted U.S. commitments to Gulf security, and reiterated concerns
expressed earlier regarding missile diversion. Senator Robert Kasten, Jr. (R-WI) in presiding over
the hearing said,
If nothing else comes out of this hearing, I think that you, as representatives of the
administration, the State Department and Defense Department, should be aware of the
damage which I believe you have done by using special emergency authority over a holiday
weekend with Congress out of town. At the very least you have abused the consulting
process. For my own part and from the point of view of this committee, I can tell you such
consultations will have little meaning to us in the future. You must understand as a
consequence of your action, you have jeopardized not only the emergency authority you
used in this case, but probably other emergency authority available to the Administration
in the Foreign Assistance Act and the Arms Export Control Act We will be exploring ways
to remedy legislatively the problems that I believe have been created. In addition, I believe
your action is yet another argument for those in Congress who wish to enact very restrictive
legislation on future arms sales. In other words, you are playing right into the hands of
people who have been opposing arms sales, squeezing the administration down to less and
less flexibility because of these kinds of actions.187
Administration officials reiterated that they had consulted congressional leadership offices prior
to the transfers and emphasized their respect for a congressional role in reviewing proposed arms
sales. In explaining the Reagan Administration’s view of the logic for the sale, Under Secretary of

186 Congressional Record, June 6, 1984, p. 15064 – Notification of Stinger Sale to Saudi Arabia: Defense Security
Assistance Agency Document I-222451/84, Letter from Lt. General Philip C. Gast to Senate Foreign Relations
Committee Chairman Charles H. Percy, May 30, 1984.
187 Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, Hearing on Sales Of Stinger Missiles To Saudi Arabia,
S.Hrg. 98-1057, June 5, 1984.
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State for Political Affairs Michael Armacost underscored the escalation of attacks in the Gulf and
Iran must understand that the desire we, our allies, and the states in the region have for a
peaceful solution of the Iran-Iraq war is not a reaction born of weakness. Statements
without action to support them have no deterrent effect and may invite aggression.
Provision of the Stingers and the [aerial refueling] tanker are firm proof of our support for
the principles we have been declaring.188
On June 11, the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and Europe held a
hearing at which some Members expressed concerns similar to those raised in the Senate.
Subcommittee Chairman Lee Hamilton (D-IN) said, “I don't have any doubt…that there was
some escalation of the war and some increase in danger, but what I do not see is that an
emergency existed in terms of the national security interests of the United States because of those
increased attacks.” Questioning why the Administration had not chosen to meet a current Kuwaiti
request for Stingers with an emergency transfer, Representative Stephen Solarz (D-NY) said to
Assistant Secretary Murphy,
If the threat to Kuwait is essentially the same as the threat to Saudi Arabia, and we are
taking our time in figuring out what to do in response to the Kuwaiti request, it implies that
the emergency may not have been as great as we contended it was with respect to the Saudi
request. You, in effect, justified an end run around the Congress on the grounds that there
was a real emergency, and pursuant to the law the President had the right in such an
emergency to directly send the arms. We are told at the same time the threat is just as great
to Kuwait, yet you haven't exercised the emergency authority, yet we are also told that
Kuwait lacked this capacity just as Saudi Arabia lacked it. I don't see what the difference
is. It seems to me that the time we have taken, properly so, to evaluate the Kuwaiti request,
suggests that the emergency may not have been as great as we contended.189
Reagan Administration officials responded by reiterating the Administration’s description of the
emergency conditions it felt necessitated the transfer and by restating the Administration’s respect
for congressional review of arms sale decisions. The officials stated that sales to Saudi Arabia
were facilitated by the fact that the United States had already vetted the possible transfer of
Stingers to Saudi Arabia as part of the Foreign Military Sales request withdrawn in March, unlike
the Kuwaiti request that remained under study. The question of further Stinger transfers to the
Gulf remained a salient issue for the balance of the Iran-Iraq war, and, on June 12, a bipartisan
group of Representatives wrote to President Reagan opposing further Stinger transfers to Saudi
Arabia. Congress later acted to condition and restrict sales of Stingers to the Gulf region190 and
temporarily prohibited all U.S. weapons sales to Qatar after it was revealed that Qatar had
procured Stinger missiles on the black market from stocks diverted from those supplied by the
United States to Afghan rebels.191

188 Ibid.
189 Solarz later introduced a proposal to require affirmative congressional action to authorize arms sales meeting
existing review criteria under the AECA (H.R.5759).
190 See Sections 558 and 580 of the Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and Related Programs Appropriations Act,
1990 (P.L. 101-167), waived by President George H.W. Bush in August 1990 to transfer Stinger missiles to Saudi
Arabia on an emergency basis (see below).
191 In the late 1980s, the United States and Qatar engaged in a prolonged diplomatic dispute regarding Qatar’s black
market procurement of U.S.-made Stinger anti-aircraft missiles. The dispute froze planned economic and military
cooperation, and Congress approved a ban on arms sales to Qatar (§566(d), P.L. 100-461) until the months leading up
to the 1991 Gulf War, when Qatar allowed coalition forces to operate from Qatari territory and agreed to destroy the
missiles in question. The ban was formally repealed by the Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and Related
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August 1990: Saudi Arabia
When Iraq invaded Kuwait on August 2, 1990, and moved thousands of its troops to the border of
Saudi Arabia, President George H.W. Bush declared that Iraqi forces posed an imminent threat to
the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and immediately deployed, at the invitation of the late Saudi King
Fahd, several thousand U.S. troops to the kingdom and the Gulf.192 Within this regional context,
some Members of Congress became more willing to support executive branch latitude in
expediting arms sales to the kingdom. Previously, some Members had closely scrutinized sales of
advanced U.S. weaponry to Gulf states, characterizing them as adversely affecting Israel’s
security,193 and had enacted legislation to limit sales of certain items to Saudi Arabia.194 As an
example of how Iraq’s threat to Saudi Arabia changed some Members’ stances on this issue, one
House Foreign Affairs Committee Member who had previously been critical of U.S. arms sales to
Saudi Arabia said at the time, “During this crisis, when American troops are in the region,
Congress will provide the President with whatever he believes is necessary to protect American
Thus, on August 26, 1990, after having previously waived an existing restriction on arms sales to
Saudi Arabia (see footnote 39), President Bush notified Congress that, pursuant to section
36(b)(1) of the Arms Export Control Act, 22 U.S.C. 2776(b)(1), an emergency existed that
required the United States to sell 150 M60A3 tanks and 24 F-15C/D aircraft to Saudi Arabia for a
total value at the time of approximately $2.2 billion.196 These items were transferred immediately
from existing U.S. stockpiles to the kingdom.197 At the same time, President Bush waived limits
that then were in place in foreign operations appropriations law on (1) the transfer of Stinger

Programs Appropriations Act of 1991 (§568(b), P.L. 101-513). The conference report on H.R. 5114, Foreign
Operations, Export Financing, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 1991 (H.Rept. 101-968) inserted Senate
language (Amendment No. 144) that repealed the ban based on information provided by the Secretary of Defense “that
it is in the national interest to reestablish United States-Qatari security relations because of their support for United
States troops in the Middle East.” Qatar defended its procurement of the missiles in protest of the sale of similar
missiles by the United States to Bahrain, with which Qatar had an unresolved border dispute until 2001. Elaine
Sciolino, “Qatar Rejects U.S. Demand For Return of Illicit Stingers,” New York Times, June 28, 1988; Patrick E. Tyler,
“U.S. Drawn Into Gulf Dispute—Stray Stingers Tied To Qatar-Bahrain Tiff,” Washington Post, October 6, 1988.
192 “Bush Sends U.S. Force to Saudi Arabia as Kingdom Agrees to Confront Iraq; Seeks Joint Action,” New York
, August 8, 1990.
193 See, CRS Issue Brief IB91007, Arms Sales to Saudi Arabia: Current Status, February 20, 1991, by Richard F.
194 Section 1306 of Public Law 100-456, referred to as the Metzenbaum amendment, after its author, Senator Howard
Metzenbaum (D-Ohio), entered into force on September 29, 1988. It placed conditions on the sale or transfer of F-15
aircraft to Saudi Arabia, including, among other things, that Saudi Arabia shall not possess more than 60 F-15 aircraft
at any time. On August 8, 1990, then Secretary of Defense Richard Cheney stated at a press conference that the
President had waived the Metzenbaum amendment. Subsequently, on August 9, 1990, President Bush issued to
Congress the formal certification necessary by law to waive the restrictions contained in the Metzenbaum amendment.
See, Memorandum of August 8, 1990, The President’s National Interest Certification for Sale of F-15s to Saudi Arabia,
Memorandum for the Secretary of State, “Pursuant to the authority vested in me by section 1306(b) of the National
Defense Authorization Act, Fiscal Year 1989 (Public Law 100-456), I hereby certify that it is in the national interest of
the United States to waive section 1306(a) of that act.”
195 Representative Mel Levine, quoted in “U.S. Speeding Arms to Arab Allies,” New York Times, August 15, 1990.
196 Presidential Determination 90-36, p. 13/37695. Available online at: [
197 “U.S. to sell Saudis 385 of Best Tanks,” New York Times, September 8, 1990.
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missiles to Gulf states, and (2) depleted uranium anti-tank ammunition to foreign recipients
However, a month later, in September 1990, when President George H.W. Bush proposed a new
series of arms sales to Saudi Arabia, Congress returned to “normal order” in reviewing Saudi
arms sales, while some Members also reverted to questioning whether sales of sophisticated
weaponry to the kingdom would threaten Israel’s security.199 After the notification, some
Members of Congress continued to question the proposed sale, expressing concern over several
issues, including its effect on the regional arms balance, Israel’s security, and whether future
Saudi governments would continue to be reliable U.S partners.200 On October 17, 1990,
Representatives David Obey and Mel Levine introduced a resolution (H.J.Res. 674) to disapprove
of the Administration’s proposed sales, with Obey stating:
I think there are two problems with the administration's sale. No. 1, the way it is designed,
it will unquestionably fuel the arms race in the Middle East to an unprecedented degree.
Second, the administration, frankly, does not have a clue as to what its long-term plans are
for dealing with the escalation of military weaponry in the Middle East. They have no idea
of what the pressures are going to be on the foreign aid bill for additional increases in
spending over the next 5 years because of that sale. Under those circumstances, I think it
ought to be scaled back. The focus of the items which we will try to disapprove will be on
the items that have nothing whatsoever to do with the Desert Shield operation, weapons
which will not even be delivered for a significant period of time after next year.201
The resolution received the support of 89 co-sponsors (85 Democrats and 4 Republicans). In the
Senate, Senators Cranston, Packwood, Simon, and Specter also moved to file a resolution of
disapproval. However, the resolution stalled for at least three reasons. First, its introduction just
prior to the adjournment of the 101st Congress left little time for congressional consideration.202
Second, many lawmakers reportedly were uneasy over any expression of national disunity during
a large-scale deployment of U.S. forces to the Gulf. 203 Finally, the Bush Administration assured
lawmakers that it would increase U.S. support for Israel to ensure its qualitative edge in weapons
As a result of these assurances, some Members of Congress were able amend foreign aid
legislation to add special security assistance benefits for Israel, some of which remain in place
today.204 In P.L. 101-513 (which became law on November 5, 1990), the Foreign Operations,

198 In authorizing sales to Saudi Arabia “notwithstanding other provisions of law,” the President invoked Section
614(a)(2) of the Foreign Assistance Act (FAA) of 1961, 22 U.S.C. 2364(a)(2), to nullify existing provisions in foreign
operations legislation restricting the sale of both depleted uranium anti-tank ammunition (Section 558 of P.L.101-167)
and stinger missiles to Gulf states (Section 580 of P.L.101-167).
199 See, Subcommittee on Arms Control, International Security, and Science, and on Europe and the Middle East,
House Committee on Foreign Affairs, “Proposed Sales to Saudi Arabia in Association with the Conduct of Operation
Desert Storm,” October 31, 1990. The notification consisted of up to $7.3 billion in equipment and training in sales to
Saudi Arabia (and Bahrain), including 235 M-1A2 tanks, 200 Bradley fighting vehicles, 207 M-113 armored personnel
carriers, 12 AH-64 Apache attack helicopters, 155 Hellfire missiles, 24 spare Hellfire launchers, and Patriot Air
Defense systems. The proposal, though sizeable in its own right, had been scaled down from previous Defense
Department proposals exceeding $21 billion due to Congressional concern over the previous proposals’ broad scope.
“Saudi Arms Proposal Raises Questions on the Hill,” Washington Post, September 28, 1990.
200 “U.S. Officials call Arms Package for Saudis Vital,” New York Times, October 4, 1990.
201 Introduction to Disapprove Arms Sale to Saudi Arabia, 136 Cong Rec H 10501, October 18, 1990 Congress-
Session: 101- 2 Reference Volume: Vol. 136 No. 141 Pg. H10501.
202 “Cranston seeks to Block Some Saudi Arms” UPI, October 12, 1990.
203 “Despite Its Misgivings, Congress Permits Persian Gulf Arms Sale,” Washington Post, October 29, 1990.
204 See, Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and Related Programs Appropriations, Fiscal Year 1991, Congressional
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Export Financing, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 1991, Congress included a number
of provisions favorable to Israel. For example, it was the first time that appropriations legislation
provided for Israel to receive Foreign Military Financing (FMF) aid in a lump sum during the first
month of the fiscal year. This provision has appeared routinely in annual appropriations
legislation since then, allowing Israel to invest its annual FMF aid in U.S. Treasury notes and earn
interest.205 Also, P.L. 101-513 provided that up to $200 million of Israel's Economic Support Fund
(ESF) aid (at the time, Israel received economic assistance) for FY1991 could be used for military
purposes during Operation Desert Shield, notwithstanding Section 531(e) of the Foreign
Assistance Act of 1961 which prohibited such use. Additionally, Section 599B of P.L. 101-513
provided that the President could allow Israel to draw on defense articles and services of the
Department of Defense, as well as military education and training, up to an aggregate value of
$700 million. Congress also granted the President authority in P.L. 101-513 to modify, and under
certain conditions, to cancel Egypt's military debt.
March 1991: Saudi Arabia and Israel
In the context of the Gulf War, President George H. W. Bush signed an emergency declaration
authorizing sales of one Patriot fire unit to Israel and repair parts and logistical support services
for Saudi Arabia on March 21, 1991.206 The emergency determination was made under section
36(b)(1) of the AECA.207
Operation Desert Storm began with an air campaign on January 16, 1991; the main ground
campaign began a little over a month later, on February 24, 1991, when U.S. and coalition forces
crossed from Saudi Arabia into Iraqi-occupied Kuwait. President Bush declared Kuwait liberated
3 days later on February 27, 1991 and declared a ceasefire on February 28, less than 100 hours
after combat operations had begun. While Iraqi government forces battled popular rebellions by
Shias in the south and Kurds in the north, Iraq formally accepted all of the U.S.-led coalition’s
conditions for a permanent ceasefire on March 3, 1991.208
Israel and Saudi Arabia both suffered Iraqi missile attacks in January and February of 1991, but
Iraq would not have appeared to pose a comparable threat by late March, when the emergency
arms sales determination was made. The sale was notified and considered in the context of post-
war debates in Congress and between Congress and the Bush Administration about responding to
Israeli requests for assistance in the wake of Iraqi attacks.209
May 2003: Kuwait
The day after President George W. Bush declared the end of major combat operations in Iraq on
May 1, 2003, the Administration notified Congress of an emergency sale, valued at over $50

Record citation: Volume 136, Number 145, Page Cong Rec S 16344, October 22, 1990.
205 See CRS Report RL33222, U.S. Foreign Aid to Israel, by Jeremy M. Sharp.
206 Emergency sales of two MIM-104 Patriot missile fire units were previously made to Israel under Section 506(a) of
the FAA; the George H. W. Bush Administration notified Congress of the sales on September 30, 1990 (President
Determination 90-40) and October 4, 1990 (Presidential Determination 91-1) for $74 million and $43 million,
207 President Determination No. 91-25 of March 21, 1991, 56 Fed. Reg. 13263 (April 1, 1991).
208 Steve Coll and Guy Gugliotta, “Iraq Accepts All Cease-Fire Terms,” Washington Post, March 4, 1991.
209 Thomas L. Friedman, “U.S. to Give Israel $650 Million To Offset Costs of the Gulf War,” New York Times, March
6, 1991.
Congressional Research Service


Arms Sales in the Middle East: Trends and Analytical Perspectives for U.S. Policy

million, of Sentinel radar assemblies and related equipment “to the U.S. Armed Forces in
Kuwait” (DDTC 014-03).210 The determination, citing section 36(c) of the AECA, was made by
the Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security pursuant to a
presidential delegation of authority. The sale does not appear to have generated significant
congressional interest.

Author Information

Clayton Thomas, Coordinator
Jeremy M. Sharp
Analyst in Middle Eastern Affairs
Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs

Christopher M. Blanchard
Christina L. Arabia
Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs
Analyst in Security Assistance, Security

Cooperation and the Global Arms Trade

This document was prepared by the Congressional Research Service (CRS). CRS serves as nonpartisan
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210 68 Fed. Reg. 24784 (May 8, 2003).
Congressional Research Service