Sooner or later, every American administration locks horns with Israel, including those considered the most Israel pro-best. This week may mark that phase in Israel’s relationship with the White House that Prime Minister Netanyahu called numerous times his country’s best friend. According to the NY Times, citing “American officials familiar with the discussions,” (Trump Administration Pushes Arms Sale to U.A.E. Despite Israeli Worries), the Trump administration is accelerating its efforts to sell the F-35 stealth fighter as well as advanced armed drones to the United Arab Emirates, as a side benefit (billions of dollars’ worth) of the Trump administration’s success in ushering diplomatic ties with Israel.
According to the Times, administration officials do not dispute the fact that the new momentum on the arms sale to a country directly across the Persian Gulf from Iran, sales which have been refused in past years, are directly connected to the diplomatic initiative with Israel. So while these officials deny that the UAE were promised a quid pro quo, there’s plenty of quid and a whole lot of quo going around.
The sale would contradict a deeply embedded doctrine regarding Israeli security, namely that the IDF must be technologically superior to all the other countries in the Middle East (the “qualitative military edge” doctrine). Which is why Prime Minister Netanyahu has been so vociferous in denying that he had given his approval to the UAE advanced arms deal.
NY Times: “The Emirati arms deal has been pushed by Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, who has been central to the diplomatic negotiations between Israel and the Emirates.”
President Donald Trump and his top adviser/son-in-law Jared Kushner have been pushing the arms sales to pro-US states in the region since 2017, when the president met with the leaders of those states on their home turf. And Congress has been fighting those deals since 2017, with lawmakers putting holds on the proposed arms sales to the Saudis and the Emirates. In 2019, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, declared a security emergency due to Iranian activities (the attack on Saudi oil fields and sponsorship of the rebels in Yemen) and bypassed Congress with an $8.1 billion weapons package to both states.
But, according to the Times, the really big deal, the EAU arms deal, is Jared Kushner’s baby. “The Emirati arms deal has been pushed by Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, who has been central to the diplomatic negotiations between Israel and the Emirates,” according to the Times.
Kushner has been laboring since 2017 to bring the Israelis and Palestinians together in the “deal of the century” only to meet scorn and rejection from most of the Arab world, most notably the “Palestinians.” The Times suggested that Kushner is hoping the peace between the Gulf states and Israel would somehow bring around the Palestinian Authority, too.
Kushner has been deeply involved in merging his personal business with American interests, according to countless media sources in the US and elsewhere. In 2018, Newsweek reported that Jared Kushner’s family-run real estate company, Kushner Cos., directly solicited investment from Qatari Finance Minister Ali Sherif al-Emadi for its 666 Fifth Avenue luxury tower.
Kushner owns the world title for man who bought the most expensive building on the planet at the highest price just moments before the collapse of the US real estate industry in 2008.
When Qatar refused to pay for his adventure, Newsweek reported, the following month, Kushner supported a blockade of Qatar by Saudi Arabia and the UAE. This pushed Qatar into the arms of Iran, which would have been fine, except for the fact that Qatar holds the largest US military base in the Middle East.
Also in 2017, Saudi Arabia and the UAE pledged $100 million to a World Bank fund for women entrepreneurs that was the brainchild of Ivanka Trump. The UAE’s ambassador to the US said in a statement that the donation reflects “our commitment to empowering women in our region and builds on the progress we have made in our country, where women play a role in every segment of society.”
So the Kushners are no strangers to the vast dunes of Arabia.
The Times interviewed Barbara A. Leaf, a former U.S. ambassador to the Emirates, who said “the F-35 has been the single-biggest defense system objective the Emiratis have had for years,” and suggested that the Emirates now expect Israel to remove its objections to becoming the military technology equal of an Arab state, and one that borders the Islamic Republic.
The Times also cites a senior Israeli air force officer who warned that a future UAE government that becomes hostile to Israel (on its own or after bein invaded by Iran – DI) would deploy the F-35s against the Jewish State. The nature of the F-35 deployment – as a cluster of advanced command centers in the sky deploying and defending against targets beyond the horizon – could impair Israel’s ability to operate freely in the Persian Gulf.
And if you doubt such a scenario could take place, may we remind you that it already has, in 1979, in Iran, when US Hawk fighter aircraft became the property of the fledgling Islamic Republic.