Middle East experts voiced fresh skepticism Wednesday about the supposed peace agreement the U.S. brokered between Israel and the United Arab Emirates after reports emerged that the Trump administration is ramping up an effort to sell advanced weaponry—including armed drones and F-35 stealth fighter jets—to the UAE.
The New York Times reported Wednesday that the Trump administration "has accelerated a push to sell the F-35 stealth fighter and advanced armed drones to the United Arab Emirates, at a time when the Gulf nation is working with the Trump administration on a historic plan to formalize diplomatic ties with Israel."
"American officials deny that the new push to sell the advanced weapons is a direct reward for the Emirates role in a diplomatic breakthrough, announced by President Trump last week, where the Emirates would become just the third Arab nation to recognize Israel," the Times reported. "But officials do not dispute that the new momentum on the arms sale—after years of stalled requests by the Emirates to buy the fighter jet—is linked to the broader diplomatic initiative."
According to the Times, Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, is spearheading the effort to sell American weaponry to the UAE, which is part of the U.S.-backed Saudi-led coalition that has been bombing Yemen for years.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday called reports that the U.S. is planning to sell F-35s to the UAE "fake news," but Trump acknowledged the potential weapons sale during a press briefing that same day, telling reporters that the Emirates "would like to order quite a few F-35s." Israel is currently the only country in the Middle East that possesses F-35s.
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"They have the money," Trump said of the UAE. "It's the greatest fighter jet in the world, as you know, by far. Stealth. Totally stealth. You can't see it. Makes it very difficult."
"So, yeah, they'd like to buy F-35s," the president continued. "We'll see what happens. It's under review, but they made a great—a great advance in peace in the Middle East."
Trita Parsi, executive vice president of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, said Trump's push to sell advanced weaponry to the Emirates just days after announcing the "peace" agreement between the UAE and Israel further demonstrates that the deal "was never about peace."
Foreign policy analyst Rula Jebreal expressed a similar sentiment on Twitter earlier this week.
"Peace is not an arms deal to be made between anti-democratic regimes," Jebreal wrote. "It must be made between peoples."