UAE Suspends F-35 Purchase Negotiations

While in the midst of the electoral campaign for his re-election to the White House, Donald Trump marked a big blow in the summer of 2020 by announcing the signing of a peace agreement between the United Arab Emirates and Israel, an agreement which was quickly joined by other Sunni Gulf monarchies in an effort to normalize relations with the Hebrew state after decades of tension over the Palestinian cause. While there were many points of convergence, in particular on the subject of the potential risk posed by the Iranian nuclear program, the United Arab Emirates took the opportunity to negotiate with Donald Trump the sale of defense technologies hitherto reserved for allies of the inner circle of States. United, like the members of NATO or the Five Eyes. Donald Trump's electoral defeat did not weaken his determination to complete this very important contract of almost $ 20 billion, including 50 F-35A, 9 MQ-9B Guardian drone systems, as well as a large stock of ammunition.

The presidential agreement was affixed by Donald Trump just hours after leaving the White House, and this despite many reservations expressed by Congress, and by his future replacement, Joe Biden. Partly influenced by the firm opposition of the Israeli military to endow an Arab nation with the same technologies as those supposed to ensure the protection of the Hebrew state, but also wary of the recent acquisitions of Russian and Chinese defense technologies by Abu Dabi, Joe Biden suspends presidential deal just two weeks after taking office, under cover of an increased need for information on the potential consequences of this sale, including with regard to the intervention in Yemen. Since then, the situation seemed somewhat frozen, since no significant progress had been announced for several months.

Earlier this week, however, the UAE authorities seemed to have lost patience, as they sent their American counterparts a letter informing them of the suspension of negotiations on this major contract, including the 50 F-35A and the 9 MQ-9 Guardian drone systems. Stating that negotiations could resume at any time, Abu Dabi justifies this decision on the fact that the American requirements in terms of technological environment and, in a way, geopolitical alignment, were no longer in line with expectations. from the country. Far from being a simple attempt at muscular negotiation, this new position taken by the UAE has the potential to redefine the country's strategic posture, and significantly weaken the United States' position in the Gulf, which is why it is causing such a stir overseas. Atlantic.

Unlike Turkey, the UAE has not announced a direct intention to acquire Russian-made military equipment covered by CAATSA legislation, such as the S-400 system or the Su-35 fighter. On the other hand, the country has maintained direct relations with Moscow and Beijing for many years, having acquired Pantsir anti-aircraft systems and anti-tank missiles in the first, and long MALE Wing drones in the second. In addition, Abu Dabi and Moscow have been collaborating for several years in a joint venture aimed at developing a common light fighter. It was hardly surprising that the UAE was at the heart of Russian Rostec's communication campaign regarding its future Su-75 Checkmate. In addition, beyond defense issues, Abu Dabi is also collaborating with Beijing in the new Silk Roads project, and had selected Chinese companies to deploy the country's 5G infrastructure.

Unlike the United States, France has not imposed special conditions in terms of defense equipment on the United Arab Emirates or Egypt for the sale of its Rafale.

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