Report: Kushner Behind F-35 Deal with UAE

  • New York Times reported that the UAE army had received a confidential summary by US administration officials about the F-35 fighter jets.
  • "The F-35 has been part of these plans for more than six years," the UAE said.
  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s denial of reports that in recent days there was a secret clause in the agreement between Israel and the UAE.

Emirati Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said that his country had submitted “legitimate requests” to acquire F-35s.  On Thursday, CNN  cited US State Department sources and members of Congress stating that Jared Kushner, the son-in-law of US President Donald Trump, was behind the push to complete the deal.

The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is an American family of single-seat, single-engine, all-weather stealth multirole combat aircraft that is intended to perform both air superiority and strike missions.

The sources pointed out that the US administration’s talks with the United Arab Emirates about this potential deal, led by Miguel Correa, the Middle East official at the National Security Council, pointed out that the secrecy about the details of these talks has caused concern and confusion within the country’s government. The US National Security Council did not comment on these reports.

“We have been flying the most advanced model of the US-made F-16 for more than 15 years. Facing new threats and more sophisticated adversaries, the UAE will continue to upgrade and improve our air defense capabilities. The F-35 has been part of these plans for more than six years,” UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ statement said on Thursday.

“With the signing of the new accord and the added assurances it provides, we expect closer security cooperation among all three countries including on-air defense and systems,” the statement continued.

In turn, The New York Times reported that the UAE army had received a confidential summary by US administration officials about the F-35 fighter jets during the past few weeks. The US President had said in a press conference on Wednesday that the deal is “under review.”

Trump’s statement came despite Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s denial of reports that in recent days there was a secret clause in the agreement between Israel and the UAE. The clause would allow Israel to lift its opposition to selling advanced US weapons to the UAE, including F-35 fighters. This sparked controversy in Israel, as it could mean the end of Israel’s military supremacy in the region.

UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash

“The F-35 has been the single-biggest defense system objective the Emiratis have had for years,” said Barbara A. Leaf, a former U.S. ambassador to the UAE. “If you’re making the big move — normalization of relations — you’re in a different position as an Arab state,” Ms. Leaf said.

On the other hand, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Anwar Gargash, said Thursday that the UAE has submitted “legitimate requests” to acquire F-35s, and said its agreement to normalize relations with Israel should remove “any obstacle” to the United States’ proceeding with selling these fighters.

Gargash said in an online interview with the think tank Atlantic Council that his country should get the fighters, adding that war with Israel no longer exists.

In May, the US State Department approved a potential sale of up to 4,569 mine-resistant armored vehicles (MRAP) to the UAE for $556 million.

This was despite US lawmakers’ attempts to curb the Trump administration’s plans for arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE because of their record on human rights and their leadership of the Yemen war.

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Benedict Kasigara

I have been working as a freelance editor/writer since 2006. My specialist subject is film and television having worked for over 10 years from 2005 during which time I was the editor of the BFI Film and Television.

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