Brief: Why the US Wants to Give F-35s to the UAE

As Israel normalizes relations with Arab countries, a regional alliance against Iran grows larger.

Background: The United States has helped Israel maintain its military superiority in the Arab-Israeli conflict for about as long as there has been an Arab-Israeli conflict. That hasn’t stopped Washington from arming Arab Gulf monarchies such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates nominally opposed to Israel but largely absent from the conflict. What Happened: Less than two weeks after the UAE and Israel signed a U.S.-brokered normalization agreement, the government in Abu Dhabi in September formally requested permission to buy F-35s, the unproven but incredibly expensive fighter aircraft decades in the making. Several U.S. legislators initially opposed the idea, saying it was happening too quickly and that it could negatively affect the military balance in the Middle East by inviting other countries to demand more U.S. weapons technologies. But it seems to be happening anyway, which would make the UAE the only country in the region besides Israel to have the F-35. Israel also opposed the idea at first but has since come around so long as the U.S. sells it more weapons than it does the UAE. Bottom Line: Ignoring the economics of the U.S. military-industrial complex, this is mostly about Iran. As Israel normalizes relations with […]

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