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James Stavridis

Selling Fighter Jets to the UAE Is All About Israel

There is a way to bring Arab states into the F-35 program without diluting the Israelis’ “quantitative military edge.” 

Stealth attack.

Stealth attack.

Photographer: Jeff J. Mitchell/Getty Images 

The landmark peace deal between Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain is great news in terms of constructing a regional coalition against Iran. It may also help convince the Palestinians that they are no longer at the center of Arab politics, and bring them to the negotiating table. It perhaps gives the administration of President Donald Trump a minor talking point that won’t really matter to most Americans.

But the most complex and controversial aspect is that the deal may create the conditions for massive U.S. arms sales — including fifth-generation fighter aircraft — to Arab nations, beginning with the UAE. While Trump said he has “no problem” selling the advanced planes to an Arab nation, it raises legitimate concerns for Israel’s security.