U.S. military aid and arms sales exacerbate existing conflicts in the Middle East and fuel ongoing regional militarization.
In 2020, the amount of U.S. arms sales approved worldwide reached a record high of $83.5 billion, a $15 billion increase from the previous year, with more than half of its weapons delivered to the conflict-torn Middle East. A Congressional Research Service report from 2017 noted that “the United States is the single largest arms supplier to the Middle East and has been for decades.” Now, with new reports of plans for F-35 sales to the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, the United States is demonstrating that profits for U.S. arms manufacturers are more important than the unjust practices of these governments toward their own civilians (as well as other civilians, such as Yemenis caught in a civil war), who will suffer as a result of these deals.
Arms sales may be lucrative for U.S. defense corporations and purportedly promote U.S. security interests, but they come at a steep cost to ordinary civilians who have paid and continue to pay for the ongoing conflicts that are fueled by these sales. In Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Israel-Palestine, Libya and elsewhere, thousands of civilians have died and countless more have been wounded as a result of armed conflict. Basic infrastructure, such as roads, water and electrical systems, has been destroyed, and young people are growing up with trauma and fear. These circumstances have worsened as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Sadly, these conditions, coupled with the high volume of weapons that will remain long after a conflict ends, will likely lead to instability and insecurity for generations to come.
In Israel-Palestine, U.S. military aid to Israel is counterproductive to a just and lasting peace. Since World War II, the United States has given more military aid to Israel than to any other country. The aid, so far not conditioned on the protection of human rights, has had a high cost in civilian lives and infrastructure, has supported illegal settlements and other discriminatory and violent practices toward the Palestinian population, and has helped perpetuate the illegal occupation of Palestinian lands. Now, in order to preserve Israel’s “qualitative military edge” in the region, Congress is considering a bill that would provide Israel with highly destructive massive ordinance penetrators (also called “bunker buster” bombs). Such a deal would fuel a regional arms race detrimental to stability and long-term security in the Middle East.
In recent years, Israel has become not only a recipient of U.S. military aid but also an arms exporter. For example, sale of Israeli military equipment, including drones, to Azerbaijan has fueled renewed fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh and exacerbated the growing humanitarian crisis there. Amnesty International reported in October that an Israel-made cluster bomb, banned under international law, was fired by Azerbaijan, resulting in untold civilian casualties.
The continued provision of military aid and arms to the countries of the Middle East clearly results not in greater peace but in greater conflict, casualties and loss of life. The United States has not advanced its own security or the security of the people in the region through military aid or arms sales.
Contact your representative below to argue that the United States should not contribute to or benefit from increased militarization in the Middle East!
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