Editor’s Note: Every Monday, Managing Editor Frederick Deknatel highlights a major unfolding story in the Middle East, while curating some of the best news and analysis from the region. Subscribers can adjust their newsletter settings to receive Middle East Memo by email every week.
It hasn’t taken long for President Joe Biden to make a clean break with Donald Trump’s agenda in the Middle East. That shouldn’t be a surprise, given Biden’s campaign message that got him elected, and the executive orders and other actions he has quickly taken since the inauguration to undo Trump’s legacy, both in domestic and foreign policy.
Last week, Biden’s administration imposed a temporary freeze on U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia and started reviewing the United Arab Emirates’ recent purchases of F-35 fighter jets and armed drones, which were sealed on the last day of the Trump administration. Some Democrats hope that Biden will cancel the deals altogether. One of Biden’s biggest aims is to ensure that American weapons no longer supply Saudi Arabia’s air war against the Houthis in Yemen, where Riyadh has used U.S. bombs and other munitions in airstrikes that have indiscriminately killed civilians—and implicated Washington in war crimes.