US Lawmakers Appeal to Trump: Sell MQ-9 Reaper Drones to UAE, Jordan

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Trump has so far shown himself to be far more enthusiastic about US arms exports, as shown by his support for the multi-billion dollar pending sale of 19 F-16 fighter jets to Bahrain, without the strings of Obama’s human rights provisions attached.

The Obama administration put conditions on the sale because they felt Bahrain had not made the effort to improve human rights conditions that the country had promised.

Human Rights First’s Brian Dooley said eliminating the provisions could “encourage further repression” in the nation, saying on the group’s website that “The sale will send exactly the wrong signal to the dictatorship – that the White House thinks the political crackdown is not just morally acceptable but also not dangerous, when in fact it’s what’s fuelling the country’s instability.”

A bipartisan group of 22 legislators – 20 Republicans and 2 Democrats – led by Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA), penned a letter to Trump suggesting that selling the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) would not only “preserve thousands of US manufacturing jobs,” but also flood the US economy with $1 billion. It’s money, he said, that may otherwise end up in the hands of rivals.

“They are going to buy their defensive and offensive weapons somewhere, and if they buy from China, that aligns them in some aspect with China … Why shouldn’t they be more aligned with the US and US foreign policy in the fight against ISIS? They are getting it on, why not help them?” Hunter said to Defense News.

Hunter represents the district in California that houses General Atomics, the company that makes the MQ-9.

Since Trump tends to encourage self-reliance amongst allies, Hunter feels his administration will be more receptive to the proposal.

“You might say that it’s a Trump doctrine, having allies fight for themselves where they can…why not help them where we can?” Hunter said. “We are giving military aid in dollars. Why shouldn’t they be buying American products?”

The Democratic signees, Scott Peters and Susan Davis of California, along with many of the Republican signees, serve on the House Armed Services Committee.
© Photo: US Air Force / Staff Sgt. Brian Ferguson

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