President Joe Biden is currently visiting with heads of state from the Middle East in an effort to strengthen ties in the region. But one of the moves Biden could be about to make, according to precedents reportscould put American lives and money at stake for a dubious ally.
Several current and former US government officials ToldAxios in June that the Biden administration and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) were “discussing a possible strategic agreement that would give the Gulf country certain American security guarantees.” These talks would have began last November and worsened this spring. White House Middle East Coordinator Brett McGurk visited Abu Dhabi in late May to discuss what the Biden administration calls a “strategic framework agreement.”
It is not yet known exactly what the United States will promise the United Arab Emirates. A Axios The source Noted that the draft agreement “includes a section on defense and security but also covers economic, commercial, scientific and technological issues”. Nevertheless, it is possible that the agreement could imply a defense guarantee that could see American lives and resources help protect the United Arab Emirates in times of conflict.
If so, it will “incur real costs for the United States,” says Dan Caldwell, vice president of foreign policy at Stand Together. “This will require the permanent deployment of more U.S. troops and military assets to the Middle East to [a] when we should be going down to the area.”
A security engagement with the UAE “could also increase the risk of the United States being further embroiled in the war in Yemen, in which the UAE has been a major participant, or in a conflict with the United Arab Emirates. Iran,” Caldwell notes.
The United States is already deeply involved in the security of the United Arab Emirates, with American military forces present there since 1990. The United States taken into account 68% of UAE arms imports from 2015 to 2019. After Yemen’s Houthi rebels carried out missile and drone strikes in the UAE earlier this year, the United States deployed fighter jets and transferred a guided missile destroyer to help. Additionally, the two nations already have several defense cooperation agreements, dating back to 1987.
Despite this aid, the UAE has proven to be a faltering ally. This is refuse increase its oil production, even as world prices soar. In a vote at the UN, he abstained to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Emirati officials have would have same refuse to take calls from Biden. None of this begins to touch on “significant human rights issues” in the UAE, in the words of the State Department, or the atrocities it is engaged in Yemen while he is waging war there alongside Saudi Arabia.
This record may be indicative of what a security guarantee between the United States and the United Arab Emirates might entail. Much like the US’s uncomfortable relationship with Saudi Arabia, reaching a security deal with the United Arab Emirates would further tie the US to an authoritarian and untrustworthy regime. There would be no clear incentive for good behavior from the UAE. On the contrary, with the support of a power like the United States, the Emiratis might be more willing to take risky steps, knowing that the United States will bail them out if a conflict escalates.
Worse still, the Biden administration would have taken these steps without input from Congress. “Offering security guarantees on behalf of the American people is a serious undertaking, one that requires the commitment and endorsement of the people’s representatives in Congress,” a senior Democratic Senate official said. Told Jon Hoffman, who holds a doctorate in political science from George Mason University. candidate written for Foreign Police. “I am not aware of such a commitment until now.”
Last week, Reps. Ro Khanna (D–California) and Ilhan Omar (D–Minn.) introduced amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act that would impose limits on new defense agreements in the Middle East. An amendment would to classify “any written commitment by the United States to provide military security guarantees” to Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates as a treaty, so demanding that it receives a qualified majority in the Senate. Another would be require Congress must approve “any new security arrangements” with the two countries before US funds can be allocated for their defense.
These checks are important when the executive takes over foreign policy issues. Ideally, however, the Biden administration would realistically assess the risks associated with security guarantees. A defense pledge doesn’t just involve words on paper, it represents an expanded U.S. military mandate that may one day require the nation and its soldiers to take extreme and unwarranted risks, with little clear benefit to be gained.