Pentagon approves arms sales to its allies in the Middle East

WASHINGTON, D.C. ـــــ This week the Pentagon has announced the U.S. State Department’s approval of several potential arms sales to allies in the Middle East, including the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Jordan, and Saudi Arabia. The transfer of the advanced military hardware comes after the US withdrawal of hundreds of troops as well as air defense systems from countries on the Arabian Peninsula in the past months.

In mid-December, U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken announced the United States’ readiness to move forward with the sale of F-35 aircraft to the UAE. This sale was postponed because Israel had previously opposed the idea of the UAE receiving the most advanced fifth-generation stealth fighter. However, over the past two years the nominal enemies became allies, taking away the Israeli objection to the sale of US arms to the country. Beside the bolstering of the UAE Air Force, the deal also includes the purchase of spare parts and repair work of MIM-23 HAWK, Patriot and THAAD air defense systems.

Another approval that was given this week by the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) is the potential sale of F-16 fighter jets and related equipment to the Kingdom of Jordan for an estimated $4.21 billion. The DSCA stated that this deal would “improve the security of a Major Non-NATO Ally that is an important force for political stability and economic progress in the Middle East.” Jordan has been a crucial ally for the United States since the start of this century, providing operational support to regional U.S.-coalition goals, such as countering violent extremist organizations, countering malign state and non-state actors.

Saudi Arabia, which has been a major customer of the US defense industry, has also received permission to purchase the Multifunctional Information Distribution System at a value of $23.7 million. This communication system, of which Riyadh is acquiring the Low Volume Terminal version, will allow for the further integration of communications between its air force, army and naval forces.

In a report issued by the Israeli Ministry of Intelligence, it states that the recent agreement with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to establish diplomatic relations between the two countries, has created a positive outlook for potential future relations and cooperation between Israel and three Arab Gulf states, i.e. Oman, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. Bahrain has already implicitly agreed to the use of its airspace for Israeli aircraft from and to the UAE.

The U.S. and UAE and Saudi Arabia share hostility against regional power Iran.