A US-brokered deal that saw Israel and the United Arab Emirates begin to open diplomatic ties may end up with Abu Dhabi purchasing advanced American weaponry, potentially upending both a longstanding Israeli military edge regionally and the balance of power with Iran.
Despite public objections by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Donald Trump on Wednesday told reporters that the Emiratis had expressed interest in buying “quite a few” F-35 stealth fighter jets and such a deal was “under review.”
Meanwhile, the UAE has sought for years to buy American armed drones — something now potentially allowed as the Trump administration loosened rules governing those purchases just last month.
Complicated arms deals take time to negotiate and it would take years for the jet fighters and drones to reach the hands of foreign militaries, who then have to train their own pilots to fly them. There”s also the question of the November election and whether a possible Joe Biden administration would agree to such a sale.
But Trump has used arms sales as a metric to judge America”s relationship with Gulf Arab states. Selling the UAE fighter jets that cost over USD 100 million a plane fits that pattern.