Trump happy to sell advanced arms to Gulf states, F-35 not in UAE deal

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The possibility that the Israel-UAE deal could include the sale of F-35 jets to the UAE has raised concern in Israel.

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with United Arab Emirates (UAE) Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed prior to signing the Abraham Accords, normalizing relations with Israel in a strategic realignment of Middle Eastern countries against Iran, in the Oval Office at the White House i (photo credit: REUTERS//TOM BRENNER)

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with United Arab Emirates (UAE) Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed prior to signing the Abraham Accords, normalizing relations with Israel in a strategic realignment of Middle Eastern countries against Iran, in the Oval Office at the White House i

(photo credit: REUTERS//TOM BRENNER)

US President Donald Trump on Tuesday said he would be willing to sell countries in the Middle East the same weapons systems sold to Israel, noting the region’s wealth and saying it would be good for the United States and its jobs market.

“They’re very wealthy countries for the most part,” Trump told Fox News in an interview ahead of the signing ceremony at the White House between Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

He noted that the UAE wanted to buy fighter jets, adding: “I personally would not have a problem with it. Some people do, they say… maybe they go to war.”

At issue for Israel in the normalization of ties with the Arab states, is the impact such a move would have on its qualitative military edge in the region. The US has helped Israel maintain that edge by exclusively selling its most advanced weapons solely to Israel.

The possibility that the Israel-UAE deal could include the sale of F-35 stealth jets to the UAE has raised concern in Israel.

UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash told reporters in Washington before the signing that the sale of F-35s was not written into the formal US-brokered peace agreement called the “Abraham Accords.”

These two things – the UAE purchase of the F-35 jets and the Abraham Accord that will be signed – are “very separate,” he said.

The UAE is “like any country that takes its military seriously, seeking to modernize its military always,” Gargash said. “So our request for the F-35 and other [military] systems predates this agreement. This has been on the table for a much longer time.”

The UAE’s air force is based around F-16s that are two decades old and need to be replaced, he said.

What the Abraham Accords does is remove “any grain of doubt” as to why the UAE should receive the F-35 jets, he explained.

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