Biden Prods UAE to Dump Huawei, Sowing Doubts on Key F-35 Sale

June 11, 2021: The Biden administration is pressuring the UAE to remove Chinese Huawei Technologies from its telecommunications network and take other steps to distance itself from Beijing, raising the risk that the country purchase of could 35 jets and drones could be at stake.

The United States is urging the UAE to remove Huawei equipment from its networks over the next four years – before it acquires the F-35 in 2026 or 2027.

But Emirati officials say they will now need more alternatives. According to three people who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private negotiations, it is cheaper. This conversation has changed to some extent on the feasibility of acquiring alternative equipment from Samsung Electronics Company, Ericsson AB or Nokia Oyj.

The dispute over the UAE’s use of Huawei has simmered since the Trump administration, when U.S. officials unsuccessfully tried to persuade the Emirates — a crucial ally in a turbulent region — to reverse a push for stronger military and economic ties with China, which is seeking increased influence in the Middle East.

They want more influence in the Middle East. Several people familiar with the situation said that Trump administration officials had initially persuaded Emirati officials to replace Huawei and present any Chinese plans for bases in the region. But the Emirati side emphasized more ambiguous language in the agreement, which ended at the end of Donald Trump’s presidency. President Joe Biden announced a review of F-35 sales when he came to power. Sales continue for now, but people familiar with the matter say there is a consensus between the United States and the UAE – on Huawei and other concerns about Chinese technology.

There is still no guarantee that the UAE will get it. The state-of-the-art fighter jet developed by Lockheed Martin Corporation provides an early indication that the Biden administration is pushing allies to ban Huawei, China’s largest tech company, from the new 5G system. Trump will follow the team’s efforts to ensure that the equipment can be used to spy on the Chinese government. China has ruled out that. U.S. officials have publicly denied that they had asked the United Arab Emirates to remove or replace Huawei.

“The Biden Harris administration sees 5G security as a top priority,” said Stephen Anderson, acting deputy assistant secretary of international communications and information policy. “The United States is working with allies and partners to support a diverse supply chain of reliable telecommunications equipment and services.” A person familiar with the UAE’s negotiating venue, who spoke in private and asked not to be identified, said the country understood the importance of protecting sensitive technology. The man said the talks had progressed well and there was plenty of time to work on the technical details.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement that “we believe that China-UAE cooperation serves the common interests of both sides and benefits both peoples” and that “its third It has nothing to do with the interference of the parties and it is not tolerated. “

The situation is reminiscent of the US stand with Turkey, which President Recep Tayyip Erdogan cut off from the Pentagon as a buyer and supplier of F-35s after it bought a missile defense system from Russia because it Had deepened his relationship with Similarly, the UAE has sought to nurture its long-standing alliance with the United States, while promoting closer economic and security ties with China as a hedge against US interference in the region. Emirati leaders are also unaware of the Biden administration’s desire to return the Iran nuclear deal, which Trump abandoned in 2018. China is in talks with other world powers to restore the agreement.

For Americans, the balance is delicate: the UAE plays a key role in the region and was a key figure behind the Abraham Accords, which normalized relations with Israel. But putting too much pressure on Huawei on UAE leaders threatens to put the UAE and other countries – even more – in China’s arms. Karen Young, a senior fellow at the Institute for the Middle East, said of the UAE that growing ties with China have alarmed the US government, but it is too late to back down. “I don’t think they will ever be friends, and China will never be a security guarantor for the Gulf, but they are useful.”

The Biden administration’s final decision on the F-35 will not necessarily have to be made before its current term expires in 2024. In these views: Although Jet’s communications network is considered relatively safe from Chinese brutality, Huawei’s presence in the UAE’s business opportunities could potentially allow China to spy on pilots, contractors and others at these bases. Allow where F35 is available. The US president is also concerned that China could steal technology for US drones, which will be part of the sale.

Leading figures in the UAE have not publicly challenged the United States on their demands to remove Huawei, but they have expressed dissatisfaction with the US demand that US officials have not yet offered a viable alternative. China was the UAE’s largest trading partner in 2020 with a trade volume of 53 53.67 billion, more than double that of the United States.

Huawei is a UAE partner to activate its 5G network in a deal announced in 2019. At the time, Etisalat, the UAE’s telecom operator, had said that Huawei would build 300 5G towers in six months, ahead of Expo 2020, hosted by Dubai. Last year, Huawei posted a chief, local media reported, with the UAE’s security official saying he would work on cybersecurity and the establishment of smart cities, urban areas that collect data electronically.

And the United Arab Emirates, “We need to be able to experience and experiment with each and every one of the technologies and what is really the most useful, safe and business for us. Special Envoy of the President of China – May 28 Former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson told his podcast “Street Talk” on May 28 that any alternative should be a “competitive alternative, not only in terms of price but also in terms of technology.”

Past writings by current Biden administration officials cast doubt on the UAE’s ability to protect US technology and any promises that would prevent it from deploying US weapons in US conflicts, such as Libya or in Yemen.

Dana Strol, now Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East, and former UAE Ambassador Barbara Leif, who has been nominated by Biden as Deputy Secretary of State for Eastern Affairs, have highlighted these concerns. Last year in an article on “War.” “The controversial policies of the United States and the United Arab Emirates – including the use of military force, competition and use of US defense articles – should be considered part of the F35 talks,” she wrote.

Analysts say the UAE is not considering changing its relationship with the United States. But its leaders have seen a strategic alignment with the Chinese model, with its focus on Economic and technological development, and the stability of its political system. After the upheaval in the United States and the dramatic changes in US foreign policy, which were changed by former President Barack Obama to Trump and now Biden. “The UAE’s relationship with China is more about technology than technology,” said Jonathan Fulton, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council and an expert on China-Gulf relations.”

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