At the conclusion of last week, President Trump authorized emergency arms sales to Arab allies as fears of Iranian aggression continue to mount.
“Today, I made a determination pursuant to section 36 of the Arms Export Control Act and directed the Department to complete immediately the formal notification of 22 pending arms transfers to Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia totaling approximately $8.1 billion,” read the official release from the State Department. The purpose of these weapons transfers were, according to President Trump, to “deter Iranian aggression and build partner self-defense capacity.”
While his actions here are completely within legal executive power, the president is relying on a rather obscure provision in the Arms Export Control Act that allows him to circumvent Congressional approval, a fact that Trump’s political opponents were quick to point out. Even some from Trump’s own party were hesitant about the decision. “I understand the administration’s frustration that key members of Congress held these arms sales for an extended period of time, in some cases for over a year,” said Rep. Mike McCaul of Texas, the top Republican on the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee. “However, the President’s decision to use an emergency waiver on these sales is unfortunate and will damage certain future congressional interactions.”
Trump has been drawing the ire of Congress for his strong defense-related support of Middle East allies —often under questionable conditions— for the better part of two years.
However, what we are seeing now is not material support for other people’s wars, but rather part of a concerted effort to push back against an Iran that threatens regional stability. It is no coincidence that Trump’s recent announcement on arms sales followed shortly after his ordering of an additional 1,500 troops to the Middle East.