Following the public announcement of the Zionist-Emirati love affair, a US-Israel-UAE deal was signed to supply F-35 aircraft to the Gulf State. This was viewed as controversial within decision-making circles in Washington and Tel Aviv, prompting US President Donald Trump to defend the agreement with a businessman’s mentality: “They have the money and they would like to order quite a few F-35s.”
In response to accusations directed at the US that the deal would undermine the commitment to maintain Israel’s overwhelming military superiority over its Arab neighbours, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, “The United States has a legal requirement with respect to qualitative military edge, and we will continue to honour that.”
This confirms what I have said before about the so-called peace agreement between the UAE and Israel going beyond normalisation and reaching the level of a strategic alliance on every level. It will allow it to join Israel in any war against the Palestinians or any Muslim state, such as Turkey or Iran, for example. This is basically why agreement was made; it creates an Israeli-Emirati military axis, and therein lies its danger.
Despite what was said about Israeli anger at the UAE’s purchase of F-35 aircraft and the secret signing of the deal away from the prying eyes of the Israeli defence and foreign ministers, Benjamin Netanyahu wanted it to be prepared without any controversy prior to the main agreement. This is because it marks the first time that the Israeli leader has applied the principle of “peace for peace” rather than “land for peace”.
Negotiations on the F-35 deal started in 2017 when the UAE opened talks with the US to buy two squadrons of fifth-generation aircraft. At the time, the talks clashed with the conditions for licensing the planes and the weapons systems attached to them, but the UAE justified its need to develop its air force due to its poor performance in the Yemen war and insufficient strength, being made up mainly of American F-16 and French Mirage 2000 fighters. Indeed, the list of military hardware that the UAE wants from America and Israel also includes drones, air defence systems, advanced missiles and electronic spy systems.
Israel wants the UAE to possess F-35s, and it may resort to selling them now rather than waiting until 2024, which is when the US will do so at best. Israel has two working squadrons, with 50 aircraft, and it is certain that the Emirati pilots and engineers will be trained in Israel under separate contracts from the sales deal with the US. Such training on the F-35s will encompass other pilots and engineers being trained in general aerospace technology, as well as the teams managing air defence systems. We can also expect to see the whole UAE armed forces being trained to use various weapons. Moreover, maintenance facilities and support will be offered, as well as spare parts, ammunition, technological development, logistical coordination and military and political coordination through permanent advisors. This will reinforce the establishment of the UAE-Israel military alliance.
The Israelis’ interest in this, of course, is based on their mutual enemy, Iran. The UAE wants to appear to be a deterrent in the face of Iran, as the US attack aircraft based in the Emirates will be a stone’s throw away from the Iranian border. Instead of Israel using its own planes from their home bases and needing to refuel them on a long mission to Tehran, for example, the Emirati planes, piloted by Israeli pilots if necessary, could carry out operational missions inside Iran, including reconnaissance and air strikes before returning.
It is clear that since the arrogant Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed became the de facto ruler of the UAE, after pushing his brother Khalifa Bin Zayed aside, the country has been working to convert its financial surplus into a military force that helps it to play a regional role. This is evident in its involvement in Syria, Yemen, Libya and Somalia.
According to estimates by the Forum on the Arms Trade, arms purchases by Middle East countries jumped in 2019 to $25.5 billion compared with $11.8 billion in 2018. The Gulf States alone accounted for 56 per cent of these purchases.
The UAE uses all of this wasted money in futile wars to destroy Arab countries, as is the case in Yemen, Syria and Libya, all for the benefit of its strategic ally — the Arabs’ historic enemy — Israel. The UAE has become a poisoned dagger in the back of the Arab people, working to divide and fragment them. Resisting its efforts to sabotage the region has become an obligation on every Arab and Muslim who values their religion, land and honour.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.