By Zahra Samimi

U.S. not seeking to undermine Israel’s military superiority in arms deals with Arabs: expert

January 14, 2022 - 12:14

TEHRAN - Ali Yahia, a Lebanese expert on international relations, says that Washington only cares about Israel’s military superiority in its arms deals with Arab states.

“This is what Washington takes into account, as U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said during his visit to Malaysia, that Washington is ready to maintain the F-35 deal with the UAE, so long as it ensures that Israel continues its military superiority,” Yahia tells the Tehran Times.

“This is despite the fact that Tel Aviv and Abu Dhabi have signed a joint military cooperation agreement to design unmanned vessels capable of carrying out anti-submarine warfare,” the Lebanese expert adds.

Despite the normalization of ties between Israel and a couple of Arab states, Israel is striving to maintain its military dominance when it comes to U.S.-Arab- arms deals.

Many political pundits believe that this approach has pushed Arab states on the southern shores of the Persian Gulf to diversify their military alliances and collaborate with China and Russia.

Following is the text of the interview:

Q: What is your comment on missile cooperation between China and Saudi Arabia? Why are Persian Gulf states turning towards China?

A: The world in general and West Asia, in particular, is witnessing a repositioning due to the new priorities set by Washington towards the Far East and Central Asia, i.e. towards China in terms of economy, and Russia geopolitically.

Attempts to revive the JCPOA in Vienna and to reinforce attempts to resolve the Yemeni crisis diplomatically, and the withdrawal of the Patriot defense systems from Saudi Arabia can be understood in this context.

It prompted some countries that are interlinked with each other regionally to interact bilaterally and trilaterally such as Iranian-Saudi, Egyptian-Qatari, and Emirati-Turkish, Emirati-Iranian, and Emirati-Syrian meetings, etc.

Not to mention the increasing desire of other countries to diversify their protection networks to avoid any possible invasion.

These states have resorted to intensifying their networks of interests through investments and purchases with countries outside the American orbit, in parallel with a French-Chinese focus on the region.

France is trying to fill the void of power after the American withdrawal from Afghanistan and compensate for the cancellation of its submarine deal with Australia.

 But China wants to secure its increasing energy supplies from the Middle East (West Asia).

These developments pushed the United Arab Emirates and France to sign an arms deal that will see the (Persian) Gulf state acquire Rafale fighter jets, besides an increasing desire for the (Persian) Gulf states to deal with China; not just through a joint ballistic missile production project. However, this trajectory has faced stumbling blocks from Washington, which succeeded in canceling the construction of a Chinese facility in a port near the UAE capital.

Q: What about Emirates' threat to suspend talks on F-35 jets?  What are its implications?

A: The main driver of the U.S.-Emirati arms deal was political; the deal was inked two months after the Abraham agreement, and on the last day of Trump’s departure from the White House. But new considerations by the Biden administration led to the freezing of the deal in light of U.S. new posture on Yemen.

Add to it the technical-security considerations that were represented in tough conditions due to U.S. concerns about a leaking of F-35 technology to Russia and China. Not to mention the U.S. efforts to restrict the growth of Chinese investments in the UAE.
All these factors led the UAE that the deal has a negative effect on its sovereignty and independence.

It should also be recalled what U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said during his visit to Malaysia, that Washington is ready to maintain the F-35 deal with the UAE, so long as it doesn’t violate Israel’s military superiority. This is despite the fact that Tel Aviv and Abu Dhabi have signed a joint military cooperation agreement to design unmanned vessels capable of carrying out anti-submarine warfare.

Q:  Do you think China is going to extend its military influence in West Asia after economic deals?

First, we should recall that there is no bloody history between the peoples of the Middle East (West Asia), the Mediterranean, and China, even during the Tang Dynasty, which turned into the largest economy in the world. China's military history was mostly defensive, and Japan's recent invasion (of China) cost between 30 and 35 million Chinese lives, which created a national wound that contributed to crystallizing the modern Chinese anti-colonial awareness.

This history nominates China to be the most suitable ally for our East, as China does not adopt a policy of undermining the infrastructure of states and societies through invasions or setting them into a debt trap.

Not to mention the growing need of China and India for the oil of Iran and the Middle East (West Asia), most of which will go to China and India in the future, after the United States approaches the stage of self-sufficiency, and Europe's shift towards alternative energy.

However, the political influence of the United States, and its influence among the Arab elites, will make China’s task difficult, and most of the Middle East (West Asia) and all the (Persian) Gulf states, will remain an American sphere of influence for coming years.

Q:  Do you think Israel will turn a blind eye on military developments in Saudi Arabia and the Emirates?

A: Despite what the recent period witnessed in the development of relations between Tel Aviv and Abu Dhabi and the signing of joint military cooperation agreements to build unmanned anti-submarine and unmanned aircraft, Saudi Arabia maintained a distance with Tel Aviv due to the opposition of the traditional forces in the Kingdom to normalization.

Tel Aviv is striving to maintain its superiority against its foes and rivals, and even against new allies alike, in light of changeable political geography, especially in a hostile environment.

This is what Washington takes into account. And I quote what U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said during his visit to Malaysia, that Washington is ready to maintain the F-35 deal with the UAE, so long as it ensures that Israel continues its military superiority.

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