Arab Dictatorship Tries to become First Non-NATO Government to Buy U.S. Drones

Friday, March 01, 2013
Pro-democracy demonstrators in UAE, 2011 (photo: Ary News)

With the proposed sale of Predators to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Congress will soon have to decide if expanding the sale of drone technology to non-democratic countries is a good idea.


The UAE wants to purchase an undisclosed number of the unmanned aerial vehicles for $197 million from General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc., a California-based defense contractor.


If lawmakers approve the deal, they would set a precedent by allowing a non-NATO country to obtain drones from the U.S.


Arms control advocates have expressed concerns about the technology falling into terrorists’ hands or being used by governments against their own citizens.


“This deal has potentially far-reaching implications for how the country will handle drone exports in the years to come,” Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, told the Los Angeles Times. “Congress needs to discuss and explore the long-term risks to the country and our allies in the region with the potential of the proliferation of this technology. Commercial profits cannot compromise national security.”


In the case of the UAE, democracy activists have been subjected to government surveillance and arrests. According to the United States State Department’s Human Rights Report, “Three core human rights issues continue to be of concern: citizens’ inability to change their government; limitations on citizens’ civil liberties (including the freedoms of speech, press, assembly, and association); and lack of judicial independence…. political parties are not permitted. The government continued to interfere with privacy and to restrict civil liberties, including usage of the Internet.”


The Predators that the company wants to sell are an older model that can be used for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions. But they won’t be outfitted to fire missiles.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

United Arab Emirates Set To Buy U.S. Predator Drones (by W.J. Hennigan, Los Angeles Times)

UAE Armed Forces Sign 17 Deals (by Shehab Al Makahleh, Gulf News)

UAE Tie-Up Introduces the RQ-1 Predator XP (Defense Industry Daily)

Obama Steps Up Foreign Weapons Sales, Overwhelming Other Arms Makers (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)

U.S. Defense Firms Make Billions from UAE and Bahrain Dictatorships (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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