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The United States has signed a new military cooperation agreement with the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a key member of the Saudi-led military campaign against Yemen.
Pentagon spokesman Christopher Sherwood said in a statement on Tuesday that the updated defense accord replaced an agreement the two countries reached in 1994 and could allow Washington to send more troops and equipment to the Arab kingdom.
“Both sides determined it was time to update the agreement to reflect the broad range of military-to-military cooperation that the UAE and United States enjoy today,” Sherwood said.
The spokesman described the deal as “a framework that dictates the magnitude and conditions of the US military presence in [the Arab] country.”
“This provides the US military with the ability to more seamlessly respond to a range of scenarios in and around the UAE, if necessary,” Sherwood added, without elaborating.
The announcement of the deal was made after US Secretary of Defense James Mattis met with the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, a day earlier to discuss the bilateral US-UAE military alliance.
“The agreement marks a new chapter in our partnership and reflects the breadth and depth of our ongoing cooperation,” Mattis said in a statement after the talks.
Mattis and the UAE crown prince also discussed a range of shared security threats, including the ongoing instability in Yemen and Libya, and the campaign in Iraq and Syria to defeat Daesh, according to the Defense Department.
In less than a week, Washington approved a possible $2 billion worth of missile sale to the Persian Gulf kingdom and authorized the sale of 60 Patriot missiles with canisters as well as 100 Patriot guidance enhanced missiles among other military equipment.
The United States and its allies have, on several occasions, come under fire for their arms sales to the parties involved in the military campaign launched to undermine the Ansarullah movement and reinstate Yemen’s former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi.
Some seven million Yemenis are facing starvation as a result of the ongoing conflict in the country, which has already claimed over 12,000 civilian lives and taken a heavy toll on the impoverished country’s facilities and infrastructure, including hospitals, schools and factories.