Countries like the UAE
have historically been no different. Now, American media are reporting talks have taken place between Washington and Abu Dhabi on a potential sale of F-35 jets.
The Wall Street Journal claimed such dialogue is ‘raising thorny questions for Israel’s security in the Middle East’. It cited, quoting US officials, that the UAE
‘has long sought the jet fighters’ and that extending a hand of friendship towards Israel
was based on ‘an understanding that the Emirates could have access to advanced American military hardware’.
CNN thinks the proposed transaction is a ‘secret push’ by US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner, and that the clandestine initiative ‘has caused confusion and frustration among agencies and congressional committees that would normally be involved in such a sale, but have been left in the dark’.
Trump himself stated the sale, previously on hold, was ‘under review’. A senior director for West Asia in the US administration’s National Security Council, Miguel Correa, is said to be leading the discussions with the UAE.
The UAE foreign ministry stated, “The F-35 has been part of these plans for more than six years.” It added, “With the signing of the new accord (with Israel brokered by the US) and the added assurances it provides, we expect closer security cooperation among all three countries, including on air defence and systems.”
The New York Times corroborated that the Emirati military was recently given a classified briefing by US administration officials on F-35s. However, any sale of these would be subject to approval from congressional committees. Notwithstanding Israel’s elation over recognition by the UAE, the Jewish lobby in the US is expected to persuade representatives and Senators to block it. Arms exports from the US generally take years to mature.
Israel’s Jerusalem Post wrote, “(Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu has faced scrutiny in Israel over these developments.” He apparently admitted he did not take alternative prime minister and defence minister Benny Gantz into confidence about normalisation of relations with the UAE. Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi reportedly said he was not made aware of any security aspects of the deal. Hardliners in Israel are concerned about it losing its air superiority in West Asia.
It is well known Israel would welcome a diplomatic relationship with Pakistan and feelings of a section of the Pakistani military — an Israelogist at the School of Oriental and African Studies observed — were likewise. He did not, though, envisage Pakistan openly embracing Israel. Instead he visualised a covert link.
In the past, informed circles in Britain have maintained Israel supplied components for F-16 aircraft to the Pakistan Air Force. When in 1992 Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao proceeded with full diplomatic relations with Israel, Tel Aviv supported India’s position that Pakistan should vacate the part of Jammu & Kashmir occupied by it. But it did not reiterate this stance in a joint statement between Prime Ministers Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Ariel Sharon in 2003.