On Wednesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the US was still prepared to go through with a $23 billion arms sale to the UAE that includes 50 F-35 fighter jets despite Abu Dhabi’s threats to back out of the deal.
On Tuesday, the UAE said it “suspended discussions” with the US on the deal over restrictions Washington wanted to place on the F-35s, although UAE officials are meeting with Pentagon leaders this week, and the sale is expected to be discussed.
Blinken said the US is still ready to proceed with the sale. “We remain prepared to move forward with both if that is what the Emiratis are interested in doing,” he told reporters in Malaysia.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the US wanted security guarantees to protect the technology from China, but the only concern Blinken mentioned is upholding Israel’s military superiority in the region, known as the qualitative military edge (QME).
“We’ve wanted to make sure, for example, that our commitment to Israel’s qualitative military edge is assured, so we wanted to make sure that we could do a full review of any technologies that are sold or transferred to other partners in the region, including the UAE,” he said.
The US is required by law to uphold Israel’s QME. The $23 billion arms sale, which also includes drones and missiles, was Abu Dhabi’s reward for normalizing with Israel. Initially, Israel was against the deal over QME concerns but signed off on the sale in the Fall of 2020 after receiving commitments from the Trump administration that Israel would receive more advanced military equipment.