The U.S. military appears to be nearly ready to sell $7 billion worth of military aircraft to the Gulf Coast countries of Qatar and Kuwait, a deal that is praised by some domestic manufacturers such as Boeing -- but under pressure from critics in Israel and back home.
A Sept. 1 Reuters article shows the long-delayed sale may be imminent. Reuters quoted an anonymous official from the U.S. administration saying Washington is “committed to the security and stability of the Gulf region.”
This report also shows that the deal is partially meant to improve relations with the Gulf states, which have worried that the U.S. might be becoming partial to Iran, in part because of a nuclear deal struck earlier this year.
Some Israelis have criticized the deal to sell planes to Qatar and Kuwait, saying Gulf states might be apt to use the military assets against their country, and U.S. officials have cautioned against these sorts of deals based on Qatar’s perceived support for various Islamic extremist groups.
Bob Darvish is a cybersecurity expert and international business risk analyst whose parents immigrated to the U.S. when he was very young, and who keeps an eye on activities in the Middle East.
Speaking to Gulf News Journal Wednesday about the proposed arms sale, Darvish echoed the sentiments of others cautioning moves to let America's military assets be sold to the Gulf states.
“When they start buying stuff, it's probably not a good thing,” he said.
Darvish suggested the arms sale might inflame the proxy war between Iranian forces and Gulf Coast Arab countries playing out right now in Yemen.
Darvish also said it's likely that the U.S. Department of State and other government agencies are reacting to pressure from some inside the U.S. government who would like to provide concessions to the Muslim Brotherhood and related groups.
“Part of the problem is you have groups that are pushing people into agreeing with this kind of stuff,” Darvish said of the pending airplane sale. “It's really awkward.”
Citing the influence of extreme Islamic groups who want to establish a caliphate in the Middle East and possibly even around the world, Darvish believes the U.S. should distance itself from countries tending toward these types of theocratic movements.
“The endgame for all of these groups really is not positive for the U.S.,” he said.
Darvish continued by alluding to what he called the “exponential negativity” that could happen when nations with ties to extremist groups get their hands on different types of weaponry. He described the Muslim Brotherhood as a collection of Sunni groups allied with Wahhabists and others to promote shariah law and, in the end, fight the West.
“It's actually kind of old-school,” Darvish said of the Muslim Brotherhood, going back to the historic idea of developing a caliphate across Middle Eastern borders. “They want a global caliphate. It is a global jihad.”
Darvish also suggested that thawing relationships between the U.S. and Iran could be a good thing, but said the Iranian government tends to be pulled backward from this kind of detente by some of the more extreme forces within the country.
“The Iranian government itself is such an obstacle to what could be a great alliance,” he said.
Analysts will keep looking at these types of arms sales, which relate to American allegiance to parties in a volatile region of the world where so much is unknown.