What is the US playing with the United Arab Emirates? As anger mounts in the state, Washington has tried to calm down by saying it is always ready to sell it its F-35 fighter jets, America’s chief of diplomacy Antony Blinken said on Wednesday, December 15, during the Gulf country protests against conditions deemed too severe. The Emirates are threatening to withdraw from the purchase, citing “technical requirements, operational limitations” and a “cost-benefit analysis” that is less favorable than expected.
When it comes to “F-35s and drones, we’re always ready to move forward with both if that’s what the Emiratis want,” the US Secretary of State said at a news conference in Kuala Lumpur, the Southeast Asia leg of his tour. When asked about the nature of American conditions displeasing to the oil kingdom, he did not answer precisely, merely emphasizing the need to “guarantee” that Israel maintains its military-technological “superiority” in the Middle East.
Concerns about China
“So we wanted to make sure we could thoroughly audit any technology that was sold or transferred to other partners in the region, including the Emirates,” he explained. Representatives of the Democratic Party of American President Joe Biden had tried in vain to block the sale and, in particular, called for the Emirates to participate in the Saudi-led coalition’s offensive in Yemen.
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American officials are also increasingly concerned about China’s involvement with this American ally, particularly at work at a port near the capital, Abu Dhabi. According to the Wall Street Journal, the United States is insisting on certain conditions to ensure the F-35s are not vulnerable to Chinese espionage.
The sale, approved in recent weeks by Donald Trump’s tenure at the White House following the agreement to normalize ties between the Emirates and Israel, includes 50 F-35 stealth fighters, 18 MQ-9 armed drones and air-to-air Rocket ground, for an amount of 23 billion dollars. Officials from both countries have said they hope to reach an agreement despite current tensions.
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