From The New York Times, the rough outline is this: Team Trump wants to sell F-35s and armed drones to the Emirati military, and in an eyebrow-raising move, evidently already “gave a classified briefing” about the stealth fighters to UAE military officials. Among other issues, the UAE’s involvement in the Saudi-led and atrocity-filled Yemen war resulted in Congress temporarily blocking further arms sales to both nations; the Trump initiative to sell one of America’s most advanced weapons is, to put it mildly, not consistent with that ban.
The initiative also involves a White House-based Army officer who left his position as defense attache in the UAE under murky circumstances. And Jared Kushner, of course. And seems to be, behind the scenes, a negotiated quid pro quo of sorts, with the weapons sales linked to the UAE agreeing to recognize Israel, and Israel being a little less vigorous about opposing the deal than they have been in the past.
The larger strategic premise seems to be that an armed-to-the-teeth UAE would help act as a military counterbalance to Iran, part of the Trump team’s moves to turn all policy into a simpler-to-understand “Iran” versus “not Iran” playbook.
So … hmm. It must be pointed out that so far Trump’s team has been relentlessly crooked in seemingly every dealing, large and small, in every agency, from border wall “construction” to post offices to lands management to Trump’s private club grift-o-ramas. It seems that by the end of Trump’s term everyone within two degrees of separation from the man will be tied up in at least one scandal directly related to trying to siphon money out of the government and into associates’ hands.
It would be stranger if the Trump team’s drive to make high-level arms deals in seeming opposition to longstanding U.S. policies were not resulting in somebody in this crew making a bit of side coin by facilitating those deals. So that’ll be something to watch.