Nov 10, 2020 - World

U.S. agrees to sell UAE $23 billion in arms, including the F-35

The signing of the Abraham Accords. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty

The Trump administration has formally notified Congress of a $23 billion arms deal with the United Arab Emirates, which will make the UAE the first Arab country to possess America's most advanced fighter aircraft, the F-35.

Why it matters: This deal has been in the works for some time, but became a sticking point in Israel's normalization process with the UAE after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denied reports that he had given a green light to the deal.

To date, Israel is the only country in the region to possess the F-35.

  • The U.S. has a commitment to ensure Israel's military superiority in its region, but the UAE insisted that should no longer be a factor now that the two had normalized relations.
  • Netanyahu announced on Oct. 23 that he would drop his opposition to the deal, paving the way for its completion.
  • The U.S., Israel and UAE all share a common foe: Iran.

What they're saying: "The UAE's historic decision to normalize relations with Israel under the Abraham Accords offers a once-in-a-generation opportunity to positively transform the region's strategic landscape," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.

  • "Our adversaries, especially those in Iran, know this and will stop at nothing to disrupt this shared progress."
  • "This proposed sale will make the UAE even more capable and interoperable with U.S. partners in a manner that is fully consistent with America's longstanding commitment to ensuring Israel's Qualitative Military Edge," Pompeo said.

The big picture: Massive arms deals with Gulf states will be a controversial aspect of President Trump's foreign policy legacy.

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